The Claws of Historical Violence Create Stirring New Fiction

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Charlotte H. Corden’s “Calamity’s Claws” has a young heroine and her cat and their scattered family’s unlooked for struggle to survive a scandalous secret evoking a modern society still seeking to heal itself from wounds of the past.

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Calamity’s Claws is a novel narrating the goings on of a cat named Calamity and his owner, a young woman named Dannette Harney whose grandparents had come to Australia as refugees from the Chilean coup d’état in 1973 which saw Salvador Allende deposed and dead and ushered in the iron rule of Augusto Pinochet’s military junta. Dannette lives blissfully unaware of a scandalous family secret that has been kept from her by her elders. Calamity, named with no intention to invite his name, nonetheless becomes default symbol for what is about to happen to Dannette in Charlotte H. Corden’s compelling drama about family destiny dictated by forces of history twice removed–providing an atmosphere of mystery and suspense which backlights the characters into relief.

When the “the shimmering unbreakable thread of light…encircling” the truth finally shines full blast upon the novel, Dannette is plunged “into a bizarre whirlwind of events beyond her control,” a fictive journey executed with mind-bending simplicity and clarity told in a jaded feminine perspective–it is Dannette’s young-old voice and persona which is equal to the emotional fracas, providing balance to a story being thrown about by force ten waves created from the fulminating destiny that nearly gives birth to new tragedy from the womb of the old one.

Due to unavoidable circumstances, Dannette and Calamity become caught up in uncovering the family secret which drags her into life threatening contact with desperate criminals and child kidnappers. Yet in the midst of this she finds love and is confronted by the reality of God. Her fragmented family miraculously discovers each other in very compromising but ultimately cathartic circumstances. The claws of her totem, her confessor, and her talisman dig into things with a painful delicacy, and Dannette the incidental heroine becomes the strong one whose life, without her knowing it, has been shaped by their matriarch Moneque into a binding force that keeps the family intact though tattered by Calamity’s Claws. The past’s calamity does indeed save the day for Corden’s characters in a stirring evocation of how society heals itself from an insanely violent history.

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About the Author
Charlotte Hilary Corden was born November 29, 1951 in Pretoria, Republic of South Africa and has been a resident of Australia since March 1981. After training and qualifying as a general nurse and midwife in South Africa she moved on to study linguistics in the USA, eventually planning to do Bible translation. She is married with two adult children and lives in Cairns in far north Queensland. For the last 25 years she and her husband have worked as Bible translators who also act as consultants to the people of the Torres Strait. This is her first published book.

Calamity's Claws * by Charlotte H. Corden
Calamity Saves The Day
Publication Date: March 28, 2013
Trade Paperback; $29.99; 394 pages; 978-1-4797-7738-9
Trade Hardback; $49.99; 394 pages; 978-1-4797-7739-6
eBook; $3.99; 978-1-4797-7740-2

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