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The Problem with Murmur Lee: A Novel

1 rating: 3.0
A book by Connie May Fowler

This elegiac novel, chronicling the life and death of idiosyncratic Murmur Lee Harp, showcases Fowler's easy, loose-limbed prose and sympathetic eye for human fallibility. Murmur Lee, 35, owns a popular local rundown bar in a North Florida backwater … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Connie May Fowler
Publisher: Doubleday
1 review about The Problem with Murmur Lee: A Novel

Searching for the great hereafter

  • Jan 11, 2005
  • by
Murmur Lee Harp is a true child of nature, who has inherited a home on the Florida coast that has been in the family for generations, content to appreciate the world around her. When she drowns unexpectedly in the middle of her third decade on earth, her friends and current lover are shocked and confused, especially since Murmur Lee was as comfortable in the water as on the land. This was an extraordinary woman who has suffered her share of tragedy but lived each day to the fullest.

Murmur's connections to those she loved are examined in first-person chapters from the point of view of the dead Murmur herself, her close friends, Charleston Rowena Mudd, Lucinda, Dr. Z., Billy Speare (the last boyfriend) and Edith Piaf, an ex-Marine and transsexual at the age of 62. Each brings a personal perspective to Murmur's demise, the private moments of friendship that evolved over time.

Murmur's chapters are confessional, brief glimpses into the memories and events that shaped her rebellious personality, including a large dose of religion. Motherhood looms large, the culmination of higher purpose in a once unfocused life. But Murmur is trapped in the here and now, not yet released to the world of the spirits, trying to make sense of this temporary state as she drifts from one state of consciousness to another.

The inexplicable drowning leaves an enormous hole in the lives of Murmur Lee's friends, many of whom question whether the death was accidental or decidedly more sinister. All savor their memories of this rambunctious and irrepressible woman. Ferociously loyal, Charlee Mudd has the difficult task of closing up the beach house, reminiscing over the emotional tangle of her own impulsive decisions and the particular closeness that only best friends can enjoy. Dr. Z is utterly bereft, having lost his wife scant months before Murmur died. In a concerted effort to comfort the eclectic mix of friends, Edith Piaf gathers them together for an evening of celebration, the resulting brouhaha worthy of Murmur's wildest adventures.

The Problem of Murmur Lee is light-hearted, humorous and poignant. The reality of Murmur's death plays out against a canvas of nature's bounty, its rich excess contrasted against the complexities of human nature. This novel is vintage Connie May Fowler, a writer with an eye for the small details that often pass unnoticed, yet define so much of each day. Murmur Lee Harp's natural exuberance led to some volatile, even dangerous situations, but this woman joyfully embraced her home, her friends and her life with an endless capacity for love. It is those left behind who must make peace with this loss. Luan Gaines/2005.

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