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Above the Thunder

Best Seller
Above the Thunder by Renee Manfredi
May 10, 2005 | ISBN 9781400078509
  • Paperback $13.95

    May 10, 2005 | ISBN 9781400078509

Product Details


“Manfredi might be the next must-read novelist. . . . Full of characters who whisper in the memory long after the book has been closed.” —The Plain Dealer

“Renee Manfredi has crafted a world that is as at once beautiful and authentic, recognizable and richly imagined. Every character who graces the pages of this stunning first novel left me nodding my head in recognition. Pure and simple, Above the Thunder is a terrific book.” –Chris Bohjalian, author of Midwives and Before You Know Kindness

“Renee Manfredi [writes] with the calm assurance of someone who believes she has a subject and a story to tell.” — Francine Prose, author of Blue Angel

“Renee Manfredi has created a gripping fable about a self-made family of complex, vivid, and haunting characters. They make their way through loss and grief by the use of strange and everyday varieties of magic: goggles that shut out the world, white blood cells on glass slides, almond cherry galette, sex, and even, at times, the help of the dead. –Sarah Stone, author of The True Sources of The Nile

“This beautiful, original novel’s characters have the heft and complexity of real people in all their maddening contradictions, rough edges, and hidden secret selves. Manfredi goes boldly, with effortless grace and confidence, into places where thinner-blooded novelists might fear to tread.” –Kate Christensen, author of In the Drink and The Epicure’s Lament

Above The Thunder is passionate, wise, and piercingly beautiful. Readers drawn to books with rich, memorable characters and contemporary stories will find this remarkable debut novel not only irresistible but impossible to put down.” –Tony Ardizzone, author of In the Garden of Papa Santuzzu

“Tragic, dramatic, romantic, inspiring, and devastating . . . Manfredi demonstrates the skill and talent of a novelist with many books under her belt” –

“Manfredi might be the next must-read literary novelist . . .full of characters who whisper in the memory long after the book has been closed.” –Chicago Tribune

“Ren?e Manfredi [writes] . . . with the calm assurance of someone who knows she has a subject and a story to tell.” –Francine Prose, author of Blue Angel

“A stunning debut novel . . . To describe [it] as a brilliant, issue-oriented drama shortchanges Manfredi’s accomplishments; the medical writing recalls the early works of Ethan Canin, and the combination of smooth storytelling, compassionate and probing narration and imaginative plotting makes for a heady blend. . . . Amazingly accomplished.” –Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Ren?e Manfredi’s voice is sassy, compassionate, electric.” –Tony Ardizzone, author of In the Garden of Papa Santuzzu

“In this moving, engrossing family drama about journeys taken willingly and, for the most part, not, relatives’ and acquaintances’ lives intersect, and tests of family loyalties and friendships spur growth and insight. Meanwhile, Manfredi handles each character confidently and credibly.” –Booklist

“Read any paragraph of Ren?e Manfredi and you will hear a voice of rare authority and verve. What is even more rare, and worth celebrating, is her compassion for her characters, her willingness to reach out into lives quite different from her own, her honesty in dealing with loss, loneliness, and grief.” –Scott Russell Sanders, author of Hunting for Hope and Secrets of the Universe

“Tragic, dramatic, romantic, inspiring, and devastating . . . . Manfredi demonstrates the skill and talent of a novelist with many books under her belt.” –

“Manfredi’s disciplined command of language combined with her intricate plot and compassion toward her characters make [Above the Thunder] an absorbing read.” –Rocky Mountain News

“Thoughtful and complex. . . .The reader is transported through the truly significant emotions that govern our days: joy, grief, compassion and love.” –

Author Q&A

Reading Groups love discovering a great book, and Renée Manfredi’s captivating novel offers all the elements for exciting discussion. Here, she talks about the rich characters and provocative themes in Above the Thunder.

All your characters struggle with loss, yet they all in their own way refuse to surrender to it. Did that come as a surprise to you?

RM: Every fictional character I can think of is defined by loss; there’s no novel in which all the characters have plenty of everything. Yet some of the writers I most admire—Jane Austen, Michael Cunningham, Anne-Marie MacDonald—provide hope in equal measure with loss. This is what I wanted for my characters.

Your eleven-year-old heroine is such an independent and captivating girl. Where did Flynn come from?

RM: In the early drafts of the novel, Flynn was a fairly typical child. Because she was so hyperattuned to her environment, though, she began to draw in the other characters’ strong emotions, and she became the one who always spoke the truth, even if the truth was more emotional than factual. Her eccentricity emerged in part from her tendency to say what the others were unable or unwilling to express.

Your novel isn’t a comic one, yet a few of your scenes are extremely funny. How do humor and tragedy co-exist so comfortably in your writing?

RM: I think humor is a survival strategy. Some of my characters get through tragedy in moments of high comedy: Jack has his moments of giddiness; and Anna turns to an eccentric neighbor when grief becomes too much.

The four main characters constitute one of the most unconventional families in fiction. Is this a subject that has especially interested you?

RM: The theme of family and belonging evolved naturally from the characters. I didn’t know when I started the novel that the characters would become so vital to one another.

Do you feel your work explores any subject that doesn’t get much attention in fiction?

RM: What may be a departure is having characters that deal with grief, loss and love in unconventional ways. My work may be more sympathetic to spirituality than most contemporary American fiction. In other literary traditions, spirituality, the mystery of what can’t be measured or seen, is more of a given–Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits is a case in point. One of the characters in Above the Thunder explores grief, loss, and love by talking to the dead, reviewing other lives, and having visions.

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