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To be released March 21, 2023
Knowing Claire is a novel told in a series of vignettes, or stories, that allow the reader to experience a unique perspective in following the central character throughout her long life.
As the title may suggest, Claire Donahue is the protagonist of most, but not all, of the stories. Even when she is not the main character, however, the stories illuminate an aspect of her personality or life experience.
The novel is set primarily in Pennsylvania, beginning in the 1970’s, and concluding in the present. It is essentially the depiction of a woman who leaves religious life, and once out of the convent forges a full existence that is colored by her experience and disappointments as a nun. As a result of her early religious life, which engenders a certain degree of bitterness, she becomes fierce in her honesty and integrity, and does not tolerate injustice.
Praise for Knowing Claire
In Knowing Claire, Claire Donahue is a woman of substance, grit, and soul who becomes a beacon for others—first as a nun, then as a psychotherapist, a wife, and as a stepmother to Timmy, a young gay boy trying to find his way. Claire’s intuitive heart makes her a natural healer and leader. In his novel of 16 stories wherein Claire is always a character, José Sotolongo’s storytelling is timely, honest, and carefully penned. His ability to write from varied perspectives and in a woman’s voice is his unique talent.
—Catherine Arra, author of (Women in Parentheses) and Her Landscape – Poems Based on the Life of Mileva Marić
With deceptive modesty, José Sotolongo follows the life of one woman, the enigmatic Claire, as she leaves behind her unloving parents, then a religious community she hoped would be a refuge from life’s intimate tragedies. Finding a personal freedom as she struggles to claim herself and rebuild her life, those she touches become a new family and community of shared love. Finding importance in small details, significance in everyday events, the author has constructed a story that moves fluidly through time, chronicling Claire’s successes and failures, building toward an ending that, as it completes one story, marks the beginning of another. A finely wrought novel you’ll want to experience in one sitting.
—Stephen Temperley, author of Broadway’s Souvenir
125 pages. 6" x 9". Printed on archival quality, acid-free paper.