“Loving The Dead And Gone” by Judith Turner-Yamamoto – Book Review

“Loving the dead and gone was the sweetest love of all…
the only thing that never changed, never got old and sour.”


Donald Ray Spencer – dead at age nineteen leaving behind a seventeen year old widow, Darlene.

Darlene Spencer – a widow before her first wedding anniversary. Seventeen, and a beautiful, sensuous, redhead Darlene does not know how to cope with her devastating loss.

Clayton Bishop – discovered Donald Ray’s body and it deeply traumatized him. Clayton is married to Berta Mae. Theirs is a loveless marriage and they have one daughter, Emogene. Over the years they have come to tolerate each other, though each are deeply unhappy in their own way. They are both in their late thirties. When Darlene Spencer approaches Clayton to discuss how he found her husband, they seek solace in each other – attempting to drown out the tragedy that haunts them.

Berta Mae Bishop – always felt unloved by her mother, Aurilla. Now that she has a daughter of her own, she feels unequal to the task as she never really experienced mother love first hand… Now Aurilla has suffered a stroke and Berta Mae is resentful of the time she must spend helping her mother. Berta Mae is a woman who has been negative her entire life and sees slights and defeat in most things and people.


Aurilla Cutter – the daughter of a talented seamstress, Aurilla hastily marries Joe Cutter after a brief liaison and goes to live on his family’s tobacco farm. She bears him one daughter, Berta Mae, but their marriage is a cold one. Aurilla works arduously from morning til night keeping the farmhouse ticking over alongside her husband’s brother’s wife Louella. Aurilla discovers great love at the Cutter family farm, but not with her husband Joe…

Set in 1925 and 1963, this beautifully written novel explores loss in a way that is powerful and at times heart-rending.

In rural North Carolina a young man died when he was rear-ended by another vehicle. Only nineteen years of age, and a newlywed, he left behind a great love in his wife Darlene. This tragedy acts as a catalyst for the upheaval of many lives.

In addition to the main themes of loss, grief, and bereavement, this beautifully scripted, expressive novel also eloquently explores the complicated love-hate relationships between mothers and daughters, and of loveless, cold marriages held together only by responsibility and commitment.

Literary fiction at its finest which explores emotions and universal truths in the guise of telling the story of two very different women.  Highly, highly recommended!

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that downloaded a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Regal House Publishing via NetGalley UK.

Publication date: Sept. 6, 2022  Publisher: Regal House Publishing

ISBN: 9781646032587 ASIN: ‎ B09MSLKJMR   252 pages

JUDITH TURNER-YAMAMOTO grew up in rural North Carolina in a small mill town. An art historian, she first came to writing through learning to appraise what she saw and to describe what moved her. Her work has appeared in StorySOUTH, Mississippi Review, Snake Nation Review, and American Literary Review, among others, and in many anthologies, including Walking the Edge: A Southern Gothic Anthology, Show Us Your Papers, and Gravity Dancers. Her awards include two Virginia Arts Commission fellowships, an Ohio Arts Council fellowship, VCCA and Fundación Valparaiso fellowship residencies, the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize, the Washington Prize for Fiction, and the Virginia Screenwriting Award. An inveterate traveler, her article assignments, which include interviews with such luminaries as Frank Gehry, Annie Leibovitz, Alison Krauss, and Lucinda Williams, have taken her all over the world, and she has published more than a thousand cover stories and features on the arts, design, architecture, interiors and gardens, travel, food, fashion, and books in such publications as The Boston Globe Magazine, Elle, Interiors, Art & Antiques, The Los Angeles Times, and Travel & Leisure. Her on-air interviews were featured on “Around Cincinnati”, a weekly art talk show on NPR affiliate WVXU. She has taught fiction at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center, Chautauqua Institution, the Danville Writer’s Conference, and the Writers’ Center, Bethesda, Maryland. She lives in Cincinnati, OH with her husband, visual artist Shinji Turner-Yamamoto.

Connect with Judith Turner-Yamamoto via her website, Twitter, or Instagram.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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4 Responses to “Loving The Dead And Gone” by Judith Turner-Yamamoto – Book Review

  1. Pingback: Fictionophile’s Top 22 Reads of 2022 – #BookRecommendations #GreatReads | Fictionophile

  2. Pingback: Fictionophile’s SEPTEMBER 2022 Reading Wrap-Up #bookblogger #MonthlyWrapUp | Fictionophile

  3. THRILLED for this insighful, detailed review of this novel from my heart. Thank you, thank you! Ihttps://turneryamamoto.com/about/ can’t thank you enough for the time I can see you devoted to it. LOVE the images: spot on! You’ll enjoy the photos from “my land of first memories” on my website: https://turneryamamoto.com/about/


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