living novels | 4 STAR REVIEW: A SCHOOL FOR DAUGHTERS by Kate René MacKenzie

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About the book

Publication date: December 25, 2020

It’s funny how things surprise you…

Kate Willoughby is a champion of waste: discarded cats and dogs, abandoned horses destined for slaughter, and all creatures great and small. But now Kate is alone in a hostile world like a dog lying on the side of a road. Is there a champion for Kate?

After 22 years of marriage, Kate loves her husband, Brian, with an even greater passion than when she said her vows. “My world spins on its axis,” she often says. But when Kate finds a love letter from Micky to Brian, she’s torn between proving Brian’s innocence or pinning him to the wall with her own guilt.

Throughout their marriage, Kate has been trusting and trustworthy, to the point of failing, her friends say. She now steals Brian’s emails and accesses her credit card accounts, phone records, bank statements, friends and activities, discovering the metaphorical iceberg beneath Brian’s affair.

Returning to the one constant in her life, Kate is guided by her family of animals: shelter dog Molly; horse Premarin Quinn; Winston parcel; owls Albert and Victoria; Stubby the chipmunk; Cassandra rattlesnake; and Phineas, the determined Grosbeak. These wise and wonderful teachers, along with a menagerie of wild animals on her ranch in Arizona, provide lessons on life, love, and letting go. But it’s Molly, in a heartbreaking act of bravery, who brings Kate back to her true self, before she lost herself in love with Brian.

Shedding light on the events of childhood and the adult decisions that, like stepping stones, brought her to this moment, Kate illuminates a familiar and well-trodden path. By telling her story with equal doses of angst and humor, Kate comes to understand that nothing is sneaking up on you that isn’t already here. Learning from Phineas the determined grosbeak, Kate realizes that even after a devastating injury, you can fly again.

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The revision

After 22 years of marriage, Kate finds evidence that her husband, Brian, is cheating on her. Reeling from the discovery, Kate’s past and present are revealed through the pages of A school for daughters.

Narrated in the first person, author. Kate Rene MacKenzie it is apparently based on some of his own experiences. While it was somewhat confusing to distinguish fact from fiction, it’s clear that both the author and the main character are animal lovers. Whether it’s horses, dogs, pack rats, snakes or owls, they all play a role in the story.

As Kate struggles with the state of her marriage, readers get a front row seat to watch her cycle through the initial stages of grief. While the author uses flashbacks and animal encounters to enliven the mood, there is a sense of disorganization within the transitions. Granted, a woman experiencing a life crisis probably isn’t thinking rationally, but readers will appreciate some organizational tools like alerts for Kate’s ramblings.

As a character, Kate seems to wear blinders in relation to her husband, which adds credibility to the stereotype that the spouse is always the last to know. However, even after her discovery, her interactions with him are unexpected. As for Brian, he fits perfectly into the category of an older man who is willing to trade his wife for a newer version, but in this case he never tells him. It’s a strange dynamic that only starts to make sense when events from the past are revealed.

Readers expecting an explosive ending will likely be disappointed. Instead, it’s more of a sense of closure for Kate. Personally, she was looking for Brian to finally understand the impact of her actions.

A school for daughters details a woman’s journey down a lonely road she never expected to travel. The author uses humorous quips and animal encounters to counter a serious theme.

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About the AuthorKate Rene MacKenzie is the female fictional alter ego of the romantic novelist and Golden Heart nominee Maggie McConnell (spoon daisy). Kate (and Maggie) spent their childhood abroad, the daughter of American diplomats. Attending college in Illinois, she volunteered at the local humane shelter, eventually becoming the director. While earning an art degree and later an MBA, Kate worked various jobs including go-go girl, bartender, and teaching assistant. At 26, she sold her 280Z and packed her cat and dog into a Ford pickup and drove down the Alcan Highway to Alaska, where she spent 23 years exploring The Last Frontier in a single-engine Cessna. Her next adventure was in Arizona at a no kill ranch down the road. A vegan and animal rights advocate, Kate provides a sanctuary for all creatures big and small, but her immediate family includes horses Quinn and Hershey, and cat Noelle.

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