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The Missing Portrait by Geraldine Glodek
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The Missing Portrait

by Geraldine Glodek

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I received this book as part of a LibraryThing Giveaway. This book is a character-driven story revolving around an incident in Mary Frances Mcdonald's high school years, and the aftermath which affects many people 20 years later. the characters are very well-written and the writing style is clear and precise, so even though the story shifts from character to character, it is easy to follow. most of the characters are not very likeable, some are pathetic, some are sociopathic, some are manipulative, but they all seem very real. The story is slow paced, although it picks up towards the end. The only thing I really didn't like was that a couple of the narrators were mice, which I found out-of-place in a story of this genre. ( )
  calicocat901 | Oct 4, 2014 |
Despite what its title may imply, “The Missing Portrait” by Geraldine Glodek is not a traditional mystery but several brilliantly conceived psychological portraits woven into a gripping character drama.
The plot centers on Mary Frances McDonald, a Catholic girl growing up in a Pennsylvania mining town who, under scandalous circumstances, conceives an out-of-wedlock child in the 11th grade.
Due to the nature of the unspeakable conception, Mary Frances does not know who the father is, the sex of the baby, or where it really ended up. This leads her to return to the mining town after nearly 30 years to seek answers and this is when the novel really kicks in.
The main antagonist of the story, Tim Giovannini, is a sociopath who suffers from arrested development. He is still bitter that he wasn’t in contention at the time to be considered as an unknown father to Mary Frances’ baby and this feeling is compounded by his being rejected by her shortly after the “incident.”
When Giovannini hears of Mary Frances’ return he sees an opportunity for twisted revenge when he espies a homeless woman who looks like McDonald in her youth. He does not know if the resemblance is a coincidence or not and it doesn’t matter because either way he will get his jollies at their expense...
The homeless woman’s name is Sharon and she struggles with incontinence. This detail is not simply an affectation on the author’s part but a window to understanding as to why this optimistic, good-natured, generous woman is in the situation she is in. It is also why, on the reader’s part, she breaks your heart.
Sharon wants to find her real mother as much as Mary Frances wants to find her child so both are ripe for Tim’s evil mechanizations.
They are many more people in this book whose mind-sets and motivations are explored and they all weave in and out of the plot gracefully.
Despite changes in settings and time periods and the number of characters this is a novel where you won’t feel lost thanks to the crisp writing style of Glodek.
This is a book that deserves to be held in one’s hands with the touch of paper at your fingertips. ( )
  mhrybka | Jan 27, 2013 |
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I'm a rat. I get to tell the Pennsylvania parts of this tale. Any rat in this town could tell you how Mary Frances McDonald, a Mount of Olives Catlick High School girl, conceived her child in December, 1962.
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Published by Echolocation Press, Nova Scotia, Canada, December 8, 2011. Never published by Teulon-Atlantic Press.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0987756508, Hardcover)

Five wealthy men, buddies since childhood, get together in Maine to drink and have a look at a young woman one of them had spotted on a visit there before. Staring into the lounge of the Maine Hotel for Women in Transition, the men are fascinated with the shabby redhead. If not so colossal, she could pass for Mary Frances McDonald from their home town in Pennsylvania, a miner's kid none of these men can forget.

In the 1960s, these five were teens whose families had made it into businesses and out of the mines and factories their immigrant ancestors had toiled in. They paraded the streets like prizes. Girls whose parents still earned a living with their hands were urged to better themselves by landing boys like them. Tim Giovannini, son of a wealthy car dealer, confident of the privileges his family's status entitled him to, cruised around for opportunities to get pretty young hopefuls in the back seat of one of his father's cars.

Now forty-five, Tim pretends not to be interested in this shabby Mary Frances look-alike in Maine. But learning that Mary Frances has returned home from the Navy to plead at churches, bars, government records offices-everywhere-for any information on the infant she gave up at sixteen, he privately delights to imagine the horror on her face if her long-lost child should turn out to be some lowlife like the one in that hotel lounge. He hears someone shout "Good luck, Sharon!" as the redhead steps outside, pulling a suitcase. He follows her.

Sharon, to ease her loneliness, goes and stands among a group of Quakers holding a peace vigil on a street corner. Tim slips in next to her. Introducing himself as Howard Parker, an attorney, he tells her he's been trying to locate her to unite her with her real mother, a loving person in Pennsylvania. He thinks that sounding religious will make her trust him, so he claims to be a Quaker. If she'll meet him at the Quaker worship on Sunday, he'll have more information about her mother. Discovering that Sharon is now homeless, he hopes one of the Quakers will trust him enough to receive mail for her, and better yet, encourage her to stay in touch with him.

Subjects in THE MISSING PORTRAIT by Geraldine Glodek:

Birthmothers--Fiction: Mary Frances is searching for the child she gave up in 1963.

Children of immigrants--Fiction: This novel deals with the socioeconomic status of descendants of immigrants who started out in America as coal miners and factory workers. Themes include status-seeking and attitudes of entitlement among descendants whose families made it into professions or business ownership.

Revenge--Fiction: Tim, a wealthy car dealer's son holding a grudge against Mary Frances for nearly thirty years, sees her search for her child as an opportunity to hurt her again. He tells Sharon, a shabby, homeless young woman in Maine, that her birth mother is a loving woman in Pennsylvania named Mary Frances.

Homelessness--Fiction: Sharon interacts with other homeless people, sleeping in homeless shelters, and hanging out in libraries and on the docks of the city waterfront.

Quakers--Fiction: There is a scene dramatizing how Quakers worship. When two Quakers with very different attitudes toward Tim clash, their conflict brings out themes important to Quakers, particularly what it means to "answer that of God" in a person.

Mississippi River--Fiction: The Mississippi River has been a positive obsession for Tim since childhood. Several scenes at take place at the river. The book cover depicts the river as part of an outline of Mary Frances as Tim offers her a ride on a street corner in 1962.

Maine--Fiction: Almost half of the novel takes place in Maine.

Pennsylvania--Fiction: More than half of the novel takes place in Pennsylvania.

Coal miners--Fiction: This novel includes historical background of coal mining in Pennsylvania and related heritage.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:22 -0400)

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