Book Review of Seeking Glory By Patricia Hamilton Shook
Kate takes custody of her young granddaughter Glory after the death of Ally, her long missing daughter but soon discovers that Glory is mute and seemingly traumatized. To help her, she must try to solve the mystery of her granddaughter’s origins. As she struggles to deal with her own and Ally’s past she finds she is not the only one seeking Glory.
Full Book Description and Plot Summary
Kate LaRue is a woman in her 50s who co-owns a successful art and gift store called the Sea Witch on Cape Cod with her long time friend and acquaintance, Jerry Stafford. Kate has devoted herself to her business since her divorce from David LaRue, a devotion that only intensified after their only child, Allison, better known as Ally, abruptly left home at age 18.
Kate’s relationship with her daughter had become strained over the course of Ally’s teen years and the parting had been less than amicable. For ten years Kate has not known what happened to Ally until she suddenly finds that her daughter is close to death in a San Francisco hospital and has given her mother’s name as next of kin. Kate arrives in San Francisco in time to be at Ally’s side before she dies but soon finds there is another shock in store for her—Ally has left behind a daughter of her own, a four-year-old named Glory.
Kate’s shock and despair is soon compounded by her discovery of the isolation and poverty in which her daughter had been living, by the suggestion from the few who knew her that she was afraid of something or someone, and, most of all, by the fact that little Glory refuses to speak and has not spoken for some time.
No one Kate talks to has any idea who Glory’s father might be or where Ally had been before arriving in San Francisco several months earlier, nor can they shed any light on the origin of the photographs Kate found in her daughter’s apartment.
Kate takes her granddaughter home to Cape Cod, resolving to help Glory become willing to talk and to try once again to find out what had happened to Ally as well as who Glory’s father might be. However, her efforts to do so re-open some old wounds.
A dream that had haunted her in the weeks and months following Ally’s departure has already returned with its recurring images of chasing Ally down a beach and out onto a rock strewn jetty until she disappears into a raging thunderstorm. Memories of her marriage, her relationship with her ex-husband David, and the reasons for their break-up rise to the surface.
A passionate relationship in the beginning, Kate and David soon found they had fundamental differences in life style, among them his fondness for guns and his insistence on having them in the house, something Kate found extremely dangerous, especially once their daughter was born. Most of all she must come back into contact with people and relationships she left behind after Ally disappeared, bringing back the feelings of guilt and failure she had experienced all those years ago and that she had suppressed over the years with her single minded devotedness to the Sea Witch.
Once Kate begins this process, she finds she’s in for more painful surprises. First she learns that her ex-husband had spoken to Ally by phone only a few months earlier. Ally had pleaded with him to send her some money, something he had been unwilling to do without some explanation of where she’d been and what she’d been doing.
She had not mentioned anything about Glory. Then Chris, a high school friend of Ally’s of whom Kate had disapproved shows up at her funeral. Kate soon finds that Chris, now a wife and mother of two young children, had not only assisted Ally in her disappearance but had kept in touch with her for those first few years while Ally was living in New York City, facts which Chris ten years earlier had refused to disclose. Then, too, Kate must deal with the unwanted interest and curiosity of her neighbor Fran Jackson and the stories of her efforts to find renters for her summer cottage.
Now, however, Chris is willing to help Kate learn the truth and sets up a meeting with some musician friends from New York who had also known Ally and who are now performing on the Cape. Andi and Tim reveal that during her time in New York Ally had become dissatisfied with a life of late night clubbing and drug use and had developed an interest in Eastern religions and yoga. Kate is told that Ally had become increasingly involved with the Center for Yoga and Meditation in Manhattan and gradually lost touch with her old friends.
Before Ally disappeared from their lives as well, Andi and Tim, as well as Chris, had learned that she had become involved with a man who shared her interests in the Center, whose name, Andi and Tim recalled, was John McCarty. There are also hints that the two of them may have gone to New Mexico with an unknown breakaway group from the Center.
While Kate is following the threads leading her through Ally’s missing years, she is also seeking help for Glory. After she enrolls her in a special needs preschool scheduled to start in the fall, she takes her to see a child psychologist recommended by a developmental pediatrician back in San Francisco. Dr. Lawler, convinced that Glory’s lack of speech is psychologically based, begins working with her through the use of toys, art, and puppet shows, gently encouraging Glory to express herself. Soon Glory’s play begins to reveal patterns that suggest a traumatic experience, seemingly related to a fire, as well as the possibility that she may have been living in some type of communal group at one point.
Although Glory is very tolerant about accompanying her grandmother to work, Kate realizes that she can’t continue doing this and enlists the help of two babysitters. One is Jen, the niece of Jerry Stafford’s partner Kevin O’Malley, the other is Ally’s old high school friend Chris, allowing Kate to spend more time in her refuge, her beloved Sea Witch.
Nevertheless Kate can no longer hide from life in the familiar confines of her job. David begins to express an interest in getting to know his granddaughter and also in what happened to Ally. Her sister Maggie, whom Kate had long ago pushed to the perimeter of her life, wanting to avoid her criticisms and advice, is pushing her to re-establish family ties.
And Jerry, well aware that Kate has been avoiding any relationships for years, takes this opportunity while she is more open and vulnerable to invite her to a cook out at the home he shares in Wellfleet with Kevin with the lure that Kevin has connections at the Center for Yoga and Meditation in New York.
Little does she know that he also plans to take this opportunity to play matchmaker. Kate is irritated at first but Sam Ritter turns out to be a charming, handsome man with a gift store of his own on Long Island and Kate feels an attraction to him. Nevertheless, despite or because of these newly aroused feelings, Kate is determined she is never going to let herself get involved with someone again.
Kate heads to New York to meet with Kevin’s contact at the Center for Yoga and Meditation, bringing Glory and reluctantly staying with her sister Maggie in her upper middle class home overlooking New York City. This encounter, like the others, brings up feelings long buried, including Kate’s envy of Maggie’s successful marriage and family life and her own sense of inadequacy.
Whatever else she may be feeling, Kate’s reason for going there is to meet Nick Maxwell at the Center, and, while she is disappointed to find he claims not to know John McCarty or remember Ally, he is able to give her information about a breakaway group called The Way and its founder Joshua Emmanuel.
It’s beginning to look more and more as though The Way might be the group Ally followed to New Mexico, possibly in the company of John McCarty. What Kate can’t understand is why her irreverent and defiant daughter would want to get involved with something that is beginning to look like a cult.
After taking her leave of Nick with reassurances that he will pass on her message to John McCarty should he ever see him, Kate and Glory prepare to head back to Yarmouth amid growing concerns that a powerful hurricane is moving up the coast. Despite the warnings, and despite her own determination not to become involved,
Kate finds she can’t resist this opportunity to take Sam up on his invitation to visit his Long Island store; she comes away even more taken with him than before. With a little luck Kate is able to arrive home just ahead of the storm and hunkers down with Glory to ride it out. She passes a restless night listening to the wind and rain, dreaming of Ally and imagining someone watching her from a car parked in front of her neighbor Fran’s home.
By morning the hurricane is over and the extent of the damage across the Cape is evident. Kate hurries off with Glory to check on the Sea Witch but not before encountering her neighbor Fran Jackson. Fran offers dire warnings about venturing out across the storm-ravaged Cape while at the same time introducing Kate to her new summer tenant, Michael Christoforos.
Fran promises to send him to visit the Sea Witch once things return to normal following the storm. When she arrives Kate is relieved to find that her beloved store has suffered only minimal damage but, with electricity down throughout much of the peninsula, she finds herself accepting an offer from Chris to spend the night as she is living in an area across the Cape Cod Canal that has missed the brunt of the storm.
While gathering up some clothes and other supplies at her own home back in Yarmouth, she receives a surprising and much welcomed call on her cell phone from John McCarty. At first he tries to politely brush her off but once he hears the Ally had a child named Glory he agrees to meet with Kate the next day.
After an uncomfortable night on Chris’ sofa bed and an irritating phone call with her ex-husband David about the proposed meeting with John McCarty, Kate sets out first for the Sea Witch to do some preliminary repairs after dropping Glory off with her other babysitter, Jen. Alone in the store, she has an uncomfortable encounter with Fran Jackson’s new tenant who seems overly eager to visit her still closed store. A little unsettled by the experience, Kate goes to Hyannis where she finally meets the man she had been seeking.
Having decided to leave the Way long before Ally did, John knows nothing of how she came to be in San Francisco, but he soon fills the gaps in Kate’s knowledge about Ally’s involvement with the Center, the Way, and Joshua Emmanuel as well as their move to New Mexico once it became clear the group could no longer remain a part of the Center. John, too, identifies the photographs Kate took from Ally’s apartment as taken in New Mexico.
Most frighteningly, he also tells her that Joshua Emmanuel fathered a number of children by women associated with the Center and considered them to be, like himself, avatars, embodiments of the Divine, a Deity come to the World to save it and restore the rightful order. He gave those children names that marked them as avatars, names like Glory, the Indwelling Presence of God.
Ally must have been the mother of one of these children but Joshua Emmanuel, John tells Kate, would never have let one of them leave the Way. Ally must have escaped with Glory, probably at the time of the fire and quite likely, he theorizes.
Joshua Emmanuel must certainly be looking for Glory. John produces a photograph of his own to show Kate, a photograph of a man standing on the sidewalk in front of the Center. To her horror, Kate recognizes him—he’s the man renting her neighbor’s summer cottage, Michael Christoforos. Unknown to Kate, he has been only steps behind her since Ally died and she took Glory home to the Cape.
Kate rushes home trying, without success, to call Glory’s babysitter Jen to warn her and then calling David, who tells her to wait for him at the house. When she arrives all is quiet and, unable to bear waiting patiently in the car for her ex-husband, she enters the house. To her relief no one is there; however, as she is preparing to leave she suddenly realizes she is no longer alone.
The man who she now knows is Joshua Emmanuel appears and demands Kate return his daughter, his embodiment of Glory, the Presence of God. Kate refuses to tell him where Glory is and a struggle ensues when Kate attempts to escape, a struggle Joshua Emmanuel seems to have won once Kate is injured and subsequently subdued.
He is interrupted by the timely arrival of David who has come prepared to use whatever force necessary to protect his granddaughter. The encounter ends violently with David shooting Joshua as Kate loses consciousness.
Kate awakens to find herself in the hospital having suffered a concussion in the struggle; Joshua Emmanuel, however, is dead. Although David ultimately blames her for the confrontation, its outcome, and the potential ramifications, he nevertheless is relieved that Glory and Kate are safe. Others, though, are just glad she’s alive; Jerry, Sam, and most of all Glory, who, on seeing Kate, speaks, calling her Grandma.
About the Author
Patricia Hamilton Shook was born in Massachusetts and, while she has lived there most of her life, she also spent twelve years in the San Francisco Bay area where she obtained a B.A. in Psychology and a M.A. in Developmental Psychology from San Francisco State University. After completing her master’s degree and getting married, Dr. Shook returned to Massachusetts where she obtained a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Northeastern University while raising her two sons and working part-time.
Reading has been a favorite pastime since she first began combining letters into words on a page and, while her chosen profession has provided many opportunities to write, she has always dreamed of writing a novel. As a psychologist, she combines her professional expertise with an interest in spirituality and mysteries–along with a love of Cape Cod that dates back to childhood–to inform her debut novel Seeking Glory.
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Publication Date: 8/27/18
Genre: Woman’s Fiction, Mystery
The editor of The Readers Loft, and pursuer of relatively interesting information, Simon has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales, and is a photo-journalist and writer whose written and photographic work has been represented by the AFP news agency and appeared in newspapers across Europe and Asia.