Mississippi lovin' in Paris
GLENN TOWNES Special to the AmNews | 5/23/2012, 6:02 p.m.
For centuries, Paris has been called "the City of Light." Known for its epicurean delights and inviting romantic nuances, Paris, then and now, is the backdrop of a vividly descriptive new book. "Passing Love," by Jacqueline Luckett, is an at times hauntingly chilling yet inspirationally written tome about long lost loves, family secrets and a woman's quest for self-discovery.
The protagonist, Nicole Marie Handy, is a fiftysomething down-home girl from the backwoods of nowhere Mississippi who ends up living in Paris, leaving behind baggage that includes the untimely death of a best friend and a marriage proposal from a married man she really didn't love, though she loved being his mistress--a relationship that lingered on for more than 30 years.
She writes, "She bit his lips. He turned away. She was sick of him, his bribes and his part-time love. Sick of his big white house on a hill. Sick of his four kids in private school and his damn latest-model Jaguar. She unbuttoned his shirt, unzipped his pants, and marked him, left red imprints on his belly, forcing him to do his best to avoid the evidence of his infidelity."
Nicole leaves Mississippi in search of power, romance and whatever else in Paris. The author cleverly manages to intertwine the past and present, carefully establishes the tone of the book by skillfully alternating the past and present in each chapter. One chapter will discuss her current adventure in Paris, and the following chapter will go back to a childhood event back in Mississippi that relates to the present. Once in Paris, Nicole finds an old photograph of her father. The photo is inscribed to a woman Nicole has never heard of and raises a number of questions for her.
The author is to be commended for her extraordinary use of symbolism and literary devices that drive the novel and story to a whole new level. For example, the emphasis of hands and grasping remain critical throughout the book, even on the cover, which highlights a woman's hands.
She writes, "The lyrics of a '70s song Nicole loved for its repetitious refrain and depiction popped into her head, a description of an old woman's hands. She loved the lyrics because she loved her father's hands." She is referring to a popular, powerful song by former crooner Bill Withers called "Grandma's Hands."
While "Passing Love" is chock full of just about everything that makes a good book worth reading--music, history, secrets, love and betrayal--the plot and ending are unexpected and will astonish and perhaps even amaze some readers. The author, who hit it big a few years ago with her first book, "Searching for Tina Turner," has successfully managed to keep her literary star illuminated with a sophomore book that delights, entertains and sparkles.