Margaret Torrens trades academia for early retirement and the solitude of a cabin in the Oregon mountains. Four months later, she is locked in a ward for the criminally insane undergoing assessment, and a charge of murder is in the air. Pried out of her by an impatient young psychologist, Margaret’s story features Jane Farrow–a former student, who showed up at the cabin uninvited with an odd, mute child in tow–and Victor–Margaret’s alleged victim, who put his claim on both. As Margaret works to control this narrative of the recent past, she is waylaid by secrets, borne by the ghost of her young husband, lost decades before.
Guest Review by Sol A.
This book certainly kept me on my toes. All throughout reading it I was fascinated to see where the story would go and how everything was going to be explained. Margaret, the main character, is a retired professor who lives alone in the mountains with her dog Brutus and doesn’t care for company. One day, an ex-student of hers, Jane, shows up at her door with her small, mute daughter and asks to stay the night.
Very quickly after that, Margaret’s life seems to fall apart. This story is told via a flashback structure, so, when the book begins, Margaret is in a mental institution talking to her therapist. Gradually, over the course of the novel, we discover why she is there through her remembrances of her past. This may sound kind of bleak, but Margaret’s character is so sarcastic and interesting that she really makes the book shine.
Molly Best Tinsley’s short, abrupt sentences and subtle revelations through remembrances are so unique and compelling. Every time I thought I had guessed what was going to happen next I turned out to be wrong and the well-timed surprises made me unable to put the book down. There are only a few major characters in the book, Margaret, Jane, Sasha (Jane’s daughter), Alec (Margaret’s therapist) and Ben (Margaret’s deceased husband).
All of the characters were well fleshed out and intriguing. I really wanted to stay on the ride with them and find out why Jane needed to run from her old life and what, exactly was different about Sasha’s mind. I also loved the interplay between Margaret and Alec and the sarcastic way she resisted against his prying questions. What happened at the end of this story? You’re going to have to read it yourself to find out, and you should! 5 out of 5 stars.
“The psychological drama of Things Too Big to Name plunges us into the mind of Professor Margaret Torrens as her plans for rural retirement unravel and she’s forced to confront the life choices she’s made since the death of her musician husband years before. One of her first students, Jane Farrow, appears at her mountain cabin with a strange child and asks to be taken in. Days later, disruption threatens to explode in violence when Victor Primo barges in looking for them. Molly Tinsley’s distinctive braided narrative offers intense story-telling, studded with surprises, that keeps us on edge until the end.”-Merrill Leffler, poet, Mark the Music and publisher, Dryad Press
“A prickly but appealing narrator unspools events from her recent—and distant—past. The plot’s gradual unfolding vibrates with the tension of unwilling confrontation and detonates with a satisfying jolt. A fun and absorbing read; I zoomed through it. –Allyson Booth, Postcards from the Trenches and Reading The Waste Land from the Bottom Up
“A recently retired English professor must explain to a Qualified Mental Health Professional the events leading to her arrest and commitment to a mental hospital. The more this brilliant psychological thriller excavates the layers of Margaret’s mystery, the more we understand how we all hide parts of ourselves. Molly Tinsley’s established talent for narrative and her familiarity with classic literature fold into one of the best novels I’ve read.”-Sheila Bender, poet and memoirist, A New Theology: Turning to Poetry in a Time of Grief.
In an episode of sanity, award winning author, Molly Tinsley resigned from the English faculty at the US Naval Academy and moved west to write full-time. .
She is the author of MY LIFE WITH DARWIN (Houghton Mifflin) and THROWING KNIVES (Ohio State University Press), she also co-authored SATAN’S CHAMBER (Fuze Publishing) and the textbook, THE CREATIVE PROCESS (St. Martin’s). Her more recent books are the memoir ENTERING THE BLUE STONE and another Victoria Pierce spy thriller, sequel to SATAN’S CHAMBER: BROKEN ANGELS.
Her fiction has earned two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sandstone Prize, and the Oregon Book Award. Her fiction has been widely published and her plays have been read and produced nationwide. She lives in Ashland, Oregon.
This giveaway is for the winner’s choice of one print or ebook copy of the book. Print is open to the U.S. only and ebook is available worldwide. There will be 3 winners. This giveaway ends November 1, 2019, midnight pacific time.