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Gail Godwin Books In Order

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Publication Order of Margaret Bonner Books

Father Melancholy's Daughter (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
Evensong (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Perfectionists (1970)Description / Buy at Amazon
Glass People (1972)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Odd Woman (1974)Description / Buy at Amazon
Violet Clay (1978)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Mother and Two Daughters (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Finishing School (1984)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Southern Family (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Good Husband (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Evenings at Five (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Queen of the Underworld (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
Unfinished Desires (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Flora (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
Grief Cottage (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
Old Lovegood Girls (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Story Collections

Dream Children (1976)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mr. Bedford and the Muses (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Publication Order of Biographies & Memoirs

The Making of a Writer: Journals, 1961-1963 (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Making of a Writer, Volume 2: Journals, 1963-1969 (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
Publishing: A Writer’s Memoir (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Gabrielle: My Life As I Remember It (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Contemporary Literature and the Life of Faith Books

Listening for God Reader, Vol. 1 (By: Flannery O'Connor,Raymond Carver,Alice Walker,Garrison Keillor,Annie Dillard,Richard Rodríguez,Patricia Hampl,Peter Hawkins,Frederick Buechner,Paula J. Carlson,Peter S. Hawkins) (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Listening for God, Vol. 2 (With: Anne Tyler,John Updike,Tobias Wolff,Henry Louis Gates Jr.,Kathleen Norris,Paula J. Carlson,Peter S. Hawkins,Carol Bly,Andrew Dubus) (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
Listening for God, Vol. 3 (By: Tillie Olsen,Wendell Berry,John Cheever,Louise Erdrich,Mary Gordon,Tess Gallagher,Reynolds Price,Oscar Hijuelos,Paula J. Carlson,Peter S. Hawkins) (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Listening For God, Vol. 4 (By: Robert Olen Butler,Allegra Goodman,James Baldwin,Kent Haruf,SueMiller,Doris Betts,Paula J. Carlson,Peter S. Hawkins,MichaelMalone,Alice Elliot Dark) (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

The Writer on Her Work(1980)Description / Buy at Amazon
Real Life: Writers from Nine Countries Illuminate the Life of the Modern Woman(1981)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Best American Short Stories 1985(1985)Description / Buy at Amazon
Growing Up in the South(1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
Listening for God, Vol. 2(1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
First Words: Earliest Writing from Favorite Contemporary Authors(2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Writers on Writing(2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas(2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
12 Short Stories and Their Making: An Anthology with Interviews(2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
FIRST WORDS: Earliest Writing from Favorite Contemporary Authors(2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
27 Views of Asheville: A Southern Mountain Town in Prose & Poetry(2012)Description / Buy at Amazon

Gail Godwin is a literary fiction, mystery, and historical fiction author that is best known for the “Margaret Bonner” series of novels.

The author was born in 1937 in Birmingham, Alabama but she moved with her newly divorced mother to Asheville North Carolina where she spent most of her childhood. In Asheville, her mother worked as a newspaper reporter, taught at two colleges, and wrote romance stories for pulp magazine to support the family.

At this time, Gail went to the Catholic school for girls St. Genevieve of the Pines and in fact, her 2009 published novel Unfinished Desires is inspired by her time there.

Her mother got married once again when she was eleven and the family moved a lot after that and Godwin changed schools a lot. When she graduated from high school she went to live with her father in North Carolina.
She would then attend the Chapel Hill-based University of North Carolina and Peace Junior College. While at Chapel Hill, she lost her father who took his own life and she memorializes him in Violet Clay as the character Uncle Ambrose.

Upon graduation from college, Godwin’s first employer was “The Miami Herald” which employed her as a journalist. It was there that she met Douglas Kennedy, a photographer that she briefly married.

According to the author, she only lasted at the Herald for a year since the publication’s editors found her stories too flamboyant. She was known for injecting too much human interest into what were supposed to be factual stories.
Thereafter, she went to live with her mother in London working for an American embassy-run travel service. For the most part, she was a glorified receptionist and she used to read a lot of books in secret.

It was while she was working at the embassy that she penned Gul Key, a novel that like many of her other works tells the story of a female trying to find her identity. The manuscript ultimately never went anywhere, even though it was not for a lack of trying.
Godwin would then go to the City Literature Institute where she studied creative writing. Following the breakup of her second marriage to Ian Marshal the psychiatrist, she moved back to the United States and began working for The Saturday Evening Post as a fact checker.

While her job as a fact checker put food on the table, she still had the desire of becoming an author. Things changed when a distant uncle of hers died and left her $5,000 as an inheritance. She used the money to enroll at the Iowa Writers Workshop which is where she met Kurt Vonnegut that would become her mentor and teacher.

At Iowa, she was a tutor even as she worked on her master’s and doctorate degrees. By the time she turned 30, she was the author of three manuscripts but could not get any published. Her very first success came when Cosmopolitan published one of her short stories in 1969.
Her first ever published novel was the work she wrote when she was studying for her master’s degree at the University of Iowa. “The Perfectionists” which was published in 1970 was loosely inspired by the author’s second marriage. It was bought by Harper and Row while she was still working on her graduate studies.

From 1971, Godwin taught intermittently but has asserted that she made the bulk of her earnings from writing.

“Grief Cottage” by Gail Godwin is a novel that touches the heart on so many levels. The lead in the story is Margaret Gower who lost her mother when she was six as she left her hometown in Virginia to go enjoy life with Madelyn her good friend.
As the wife of the Rector, her actions had caused tongues to furiously wag as Margaret was left to be raised by Walter her father.

The latter tried to put on a brave face following the separation as he believes Ruth will return when she tires of living out there. But a year later, Ruth dies in an accident and Margaret and Walter will have to make a new life for themselves without Ruth.
Walter is determined to never let Margaret grow bitter over the abandonment by her mother. This results in Margaret transferring her anger to Madelyn her mother’s friend. As Margaret grows older, she starts seeing things differently and lets herself move on.
It is a beautifully written and tender work that comes with a lot of detail that builds up a very realistic world for readers.

Gail Godwin’s novel “Father Melancholy’s Daughter” is a work set in a small North Carolina town of High Balsam during the latter part of the century.

The lead is the young pastor Margaret Bonner who heads the local episcopal church. She is very concerned about the tensions that have been rising between the recently laid-off workers and wealthy professionals.
The story opens one evening during the Advent season when Margaret opens her front door to find three strangers.

There is the 80-year-old monk Tony who just got off a Greyhound and needs a place to sleep for the night. There is the large and rude Grace Munger who will not stop talking about Gids Pan for the Millennial Birthday of Jesus.
Lastly is the alcoholic student Chase Zorn who was expelled from her husband’s reform school and now needs a place to stay.

Each of the visitors tells her that they will not be staying for long. However, they end up staying for months resulting in a lot of frustration for everyone. Nonetheless, they bring to Margaret a sense of family sweeter than anything she could have ever imagined.

“Evensong” by Gail Godwin is the story of Marcus an eleven-year-old that is sent to live with his great aunt on a South Carolina island following the death of his mother.

His aunt Charlotte is a reclusive painter who has a dark secretive past and is known for being a woman of few words. She tells him that she had been visiting a ruined cottage that she then pointed out as it matched the ruined state of her life.

It was from the state of the cottage that she got the inspiration to become a painter as she intended to capture the pure desolation. The residents of the island refer to it as Grief Cottage since a couple and their son had gone missing from it during a huge storm half a century earlier.

Marcus starts visiting the cottage every day while his aunt paints but has never gone inside. Slowly he is gathering courage and becomes very curious about the ghost of the boy that had gone missing from the cottage.
Soon enough he is courting the boy’s ghost even though it is not clear if the ghost has a sinister agenda or is just being friendly.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Gail Godwin

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