Friday, October 4, 2013

All That Lies Within by Lynn Ames

The Rainbow Reader Welcomes Special Guest Reviewer
Fellow Lesfic Aficionado and Sparkly Humor Laureate

This week, Michelle wrangles trust issues in
All That Lies Within by Lynn Ames

Book:  All That Lies Within
Author:  Lynn Ames
Publisher:  Phoenix Rising Press

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Edward Hopper's Nighthawks
Paul and I walked to the corner diner for coffee…

It was a warm day in the spring of 1988, and I sat transfixed as Glenn Parker delivered a memorable charge to my graduating class. The walls of the Princeton University Chapel resonated with his warm, rich voice and I smiled as I recalled our first meeting years earlier.

Glenn Parker wasn’t the only diction coach on staff at Westminster Choir College, but he was highly sought after by every voice major on campus for a very good reason. Glenn Parker could have corrected Eliza Doolittle’s diction issues in less than two hours, and he could have made the ladies from the cast of Jersey Shore sound like debutantes from Greenwich, Connecticut.

When Glenn first heard me speak, he quickly scribbled a sentence onto a piece of paper, handed it to me and stated, “Read this out loud.” I obliged and said, “Pawl and I wawked to da cawnah die-nah faw cawfee.” 

Glenn managed to utter, “You’re in,” before doubling over in a fit of laughter.

I was reasonably sure that he wasn’t getting enough air into his lungs, and was beginning to get worried that he might pass out before I find out why my diction caused such a response.

When Glenn was finally able to regain his composure, he said, “Two things. First, you were clearly born and raised on Long Island. Second, if you ever want to be an opera singer, you will never speak like that in my class again.”

While it is true that Glenn taught all of his students a great deal about diction, his greatest gift was what he taught us about life. He challenged us to embrace the intangible, to look beyond what we could see or touch, and he taught us how to listen to angels.

The concluding sentence of Glenn’s charge to my graduating class turned out to be the last words I would ever hear him speak. Glenn died a few short years later, but to this day, I feel his spirit, and hear his final words time and again…

“May your path be guided by angels, unaware of their perfect timing and gracious gifts.”

Lynn Ames' book, All That Lies Within, tells the tale of two women, who at first glance, seem to have very little in common. Dara Thomas is a famous Hollywood actress, adored by her fans and sought after as much for her beauty as for her talent. A Yale graduate, Dara desperately wants to be appreciated for her intellect, and struggles to be viewed as more than just a beautiful woman. She has painstakingly created a life where she can maintain control of her acting career, but keep secret her identity as Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Constance Darrow.

Rebecca Minton is a well-respected professor of American Literature at Middlebury College. She is regarded as an expert on the works of Constance Darrow, and centers much of her coursework on the reclusive author’s books. When Rebecca writes a letter to Constance, she is surprised when the author responds. The two continue to correspond, and what began as a series of professional exchanges becomes friendlier in nature. Curious to learn more about Constance, Rebecca turns to the Internet, where her curiosity is piqued when she is unable to discover any photos of Constance, or any personal information about the author.

A twist of fate leads Rebecca to discover that Dara is really the reclusive Constance Darrow. The actress chastises herself for letting her guard down, and is convinced that Rebecca will sell her story to the tabloids. Rebecca begins to doubt that she will ever hear from the author again. Both women mourn what could very well be the end of their special relationship. At a crossroads, Dara and Rebecca must each decide which force is greater: their considerable trust issues, or the connection and attraction that had been building between them.

While the plot of All That Lies Within primarily focuses on the plight of the protagonists, Dara (a.k.a. Constance) and Rebecca, Ms. Ames’ careful inclusion of Dara’s best friend and business manager, Carolyn, as a supporting character is a wise and well-considered choice. By allowing the reader to gain insight into Dara’s personality from the perspective of her best friend, Ms. Ames softens and strengthens what could otherwise be described as a cold and detached character. A number of other carefully developed characters, some appearing for only a scene or two, round out the cast of the book, and add depth, breadth, and interest to both the story and main characters.

Author Lynn Ames
The pacing of the book is even throughout, and the storyline is both interesting and well developed. As a reader, I feel compelled to acknowledge the careful and precise editing. This is the first book I can recall reading that was free from grammatical, formatting, or typesetting errors.  Additionally, it is quite evident that the author went to great lengths to ensure that the locations in the book were accurately and appropriately portrayed.

It also reminded me that it has been far too long since I have been to the Carnegie Deli in NYC for a Reuben... 

And, lastly, All That Lies Within is a fitting title for this book—it alludes to both Dara Thomas seeking to be valued for more than her external beauty, and to both Dara’s and Rebecca’s soul-searching journey toward self-awareness. While I am more accustomed to reading books which include a number of descriptive passages about the physical attributes of the characters, I believe the author was wise in limiting references to their appearances so that the reader focuses more acutely on the internal struggles that Dara and Rebecca experience throughout the story.

All That Lies Within is a story that brings to mind a quote by Epictetus, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” As for my reference to angels in the introduction of this review? Well, I guess you’ll just have to read the book to see how they factor into this story.

Lynn Ames’ All That Lies Within is a solid read that will thrill romance buffs looking for a story that tugs at all the right strings.

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