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R E V I E W S
"In this remarkable debut, Minnesota native Sharratt weaves dark,
evocative fairy tales and passionate longings into an incandescent coming-of-age
"I highly recommend this wonderful new novel. I read it in a
weekend, absorbed in the story and the characters, and was moved to tears by
the ending. It is a tale of many things—immigrant life, working in Midwest
flour mills, family ties, fairy tales as feminine archetypes--but more than
anything, it is the story of two women and how they found their way to each
other against all odds."
"[A] complex and subtle Cinderella tale. Mary Sharratt's debut
has almost none of the typical faults of first novels. Her language is lush
but controlled, her narrative carefully paced."
"Sensuous and deeply moving, this stunning first novel explores
traditional roles for women and their mythic counterparts, as well as the theme
of initiation into womanhood as it is expressed in the myth of Persephone and
the stories of Baba Yaga."
"Kathrin's story would be merely a sad romance with a twist if
it weren't interwoven with fairy tales that illuminate it. Tales of maidens
and hags, terror and magic take on fresh clarity and power in this unusual
context. . . . This is a poignant novel, and appealing in its well-researched
early-20th-century settings--stately Summit Avenue, gritty mills, bawdy Nordeast
"Lyrical and lovely. Summit Avenue touches the heart and
remains in the mind like a haunting melody. Combining fairy tales with gritty
reality, this first novel is a story about growing up, about values, above
all about love in all its guises. . . . Reality and folklore blend seamlessly
in this story, making it difficult to distinguish one from the other. . . .
Mary Sharratt enchants and amazes as she spins her tale, turning straw into
"In Summit Avenue, Sharratt gives fairy tales back to
"Fans of Clarissa Pinkola Estes' Women Who Run with the Wolves,
the popular Jungian analysis of female images in folk tales, will appreciate
Sharratt's weaving of the Baba Yaga and Vasalisa initiation story throughout
"I am amazed that this is Sharratt's first novel, as in its sophistication,
its deft use of complex narrative styles, its assured voice, it seems like
the work of a vastly experienced writer. . . . I hope Sharratt has a second
book in the works, and that we do not have to wait long to fall under her spell
"The characters are compelling--both resisting and embracing
their assigned fairy-tale roles. They immediately draw us into the story of
poor, naive Kathrin alone on the bring of war in an unfamiliar Summit Avenue
world, guided only by an old thread of story left by her mother and uncle and
the fairy-tales Violet has told her. Sharratt's addition of fairy-tales to
historical fiction helps reveal that the world is full of wonders, and this
empowers Kathrin to thread and reweave her stories to transform her life."
"Mary Sharratt's Summit Avenue is a beautifully crafted
debut novel set in the Twin Cities during the years 1911-1918. A wonderful
coming-of-age story intertwined with the power of fairytales as they influence
our sense of self."
"Mary Sharratt tells her tale well, mixing history with good
old-fashioned story telling. Her use of fairy tales to underline Kathrin's
life experience gives the story a real richness. She has created a legend out
of Kathrin Albrecht's imagined life."
"This is a sensitive, beautifully written book about love, loss
and the search for identity told against the background of myth and legend."
"In a multi-layered immigrant story, soul-growing story, and
love story, Mary Sharratt unfolds Kathrin Albrecht's life in unexpected ways
that feel ancient yet contemporary."
"I read a lot yet it is rare, really rare, when I find a book
I can't put down. Mary Sharratt's new book Summit Avenue is that type