Painting Juliana by Martha Louise Hunter

Painting Juliana by Martha Louise Hunter

May 20, 2014

Goldminds Publishing, LLC

Nashville, Tennessee

362 pages

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For a first book, Martha Louise Hunter has written an engaging story about family relationships, Alzheimer’s disease, agoraphobia, divorce, and letting go of the past. The story focuses on Juliana, an Austin, Texas housewife, who is served divorce papers and kicked out of her the house by her husband, Oliver, a hot-shot attorney. Fortunately, her father lives in Austin, and so she goes to seek his help at the house she grew up in, not knowing that the first stages of Alzheimer’s has overtaken her father. Once her mother passed away many years ago, Juliana had a very strained relationship with her father. The house is in a shambles, her brother does not get along with their father either, but fortunately, her dad saw what was coming and set up a plan of action as his disease progressed.

Juliana has 14-year-old twins, Adam and Lindsey, and they were never close to their grandfather and stay with Oliver, as he well intended. Juliana’s reason for being is to be a mother to her twins and now that has been taken away, at least temporarily. Juliana was clueless about what Oliver had planned, probably as clueless as she had been their entire marriage, focusing on her kids. The relationship with her daughter is the one that suffers more than her relationship with her son.

Oliver is presented by Ms. Hunter as a completely despicable character. His only good point is that he is a good attorney and is charismatic in court and makes a lot of money–if those are good points. Time and time again in the novel, naïve Juliana is manipulated by Oliver. Juliana was very used to the country club lifestyle, had girlfriends who were just like her in that they didn’t work and bought whatever they pleased. Of course, these women abandoned her when Oliver started the divorce proceedings. Only one woman that was previously divorced seemed to want to be her friend.

During this terrible time for Juliana, her dad is getting worse and she follows his wishes and puts him in a facility geared towards Alzheimer’s patients. She learns that he had at one time been a very good artist and painter. An old acquaintance, an art dealer, sends all the paintings to Juliana that she had kept. Juliana takes them to the facility and her dad remembers much in flashes as he is surrounded by his paintings. In the meantime, Juliana tries to fix up her childhood home, but she has little money. Later she has to start selling the paintings to raise money for herself and her father.

After much sturm and drang, Juliana learns the truth about many aspects of her parents’ lives that she had no knowledge. She does remember how much of a terrible agoraphobic her mother had been, and she discovers how this led to her premature death.

I did enjoy reading Painting Juliana, even though I could not relate to Juliana in any way. I was often frustrated at Juliana’s cluelessness and helplessness and her inability to better her situation. I felt this way especially after learning that she was once a paralegal and wanted to go to law school. She did not know her own strengths. I will never live the country club lifestyle or have someone completely be in charge of my financial situation without questioning anything. The novel does not really dig deep into Juliana and Oliver’s marriage, even in the therapy sessions they attend, because Oliver would never be that introspective. Juliana struggles a long time in this novel in figuring out how comfort and money are no substitute for real love.

I am sure many out there can and will relate to Juliana and her terrible situation, even if I cannot. But I do think that Ms. Hunter is a good writer on many levels. Of course I wonder how much of this novel is probably autobiographical. If you can relate to the issues brought forth by Ms. Hunter, then you will enjoy this book. I enjoyed reading Painting Juliana even though I had nothing in common with Juliana’s life–it’s a good story.

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 Martha Louise Hunter’s website

Martha Louise Hunter’s blog

Other tour stops for Painting Juliana

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  6 comments for “Painting Juliana by Martha Louise Hunter

  1. October 16, 2014 at 8:29 AM

    Great review, it really made me want to read the book to see how Juliana makes it through her divorce and to find out what happens to her father. Love the new layout of your blog too, very visually appealing.

    • October 16, 2014 at 4:51 PM

      Thanks, Stephanie! I didn’t want to be a spoiler like I inadvertently am sometimes. I am enjoying the “magazine” theme on WP.

  2. October 16, 2014 at 9:20 PM

    Denise, thank you for such a great review! I am truly honored and grateful.
    Was the book autobiographical? My kids have certainly had their moments, my father suffered from Alzheimer’s, and I used to own a vintage car like the one in the book, but were I married to a man like Oliver, he’d be six-feet-under and I’d be in prison!
    Thank you again. All my best, MLH

    • October 17, 2014 at 7:52 AM

      LOL, Martha!! Thank you for commenting. You might be one of a small handful that have taken the time. Very nice of you. After reading all of the reviews, Oliver and his characterization were a big hit. See you in Plano at your book-signing!

      • October 21, 2014 at 1:50 AM

        oh, yay Denise! I’m so glad you’re coming!! I so look forward to meeting you! We’ll have fun! xo MLH 🙂

  3. October 18, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    I’m glad that you enjoyed this book but even more glad that you can’t identify too closely with Juliana. Her life sounds rather difficult for sure!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

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