G436 Book Review of Painting Juliana by Martha Louise Hunter

Name of Book: Painting Juliana

Author: Martha Louise Hunter

ISBN: 978-1-930584-62-4

Publisher: Goldminds

Type of book: Austin Texas, 2005, Alzheimer, father/daughter relationship, siblings, children, divorce, wealth, community, paintings, hidden desires, secrets, art as memory , obsessive compulsive disorder, tornado, funnel cloud, control vs letting go

Year it was published: 2014


Juliana Birdsong is your typical eight-year-old with an obsessive-compulsive mother who's too paranoid to leave the house. Making double-lined, black-out drapes to protect their home from the outside world, her mother only looks up from her sewing machine when Perry Mason comes on TV - the type of successful man Juliana should marry if she wants to get anywhere in life. But Juliana has other things to worry about. Night after night, she's awakened by a terrifying dream where she's chased down a long, tapering highway on the back of her father's motorcycle heading for an enormous, twisting funnel cloud that waits on the horizon. Even after locking it away inside her bedside drawer, Juliana wonders if there are parts of the dream she hasn't seen yet. Years later, she finds dynamic trial lawyer, Oliver Morrissey and she marries him for love. Life is going reasonably well for the priviledged socialite - that is, until she's faced with losing everything, including her children. Stepping out of her Lexus, Juliana peels off her Chanel sunglasses and glares up at her childhood home that's now smothered in ivy. Inside, there's only her estranged father left, who she's sure caused her mother's death. Moving in, she discovers a nude portrait of her with an odd set of tiny red footprints on the ankle, and another surprise she's not expecting: Her father has Alzheimer's and he needs her. Plus, a shipment of mysterious oil paintings arrives, all with his signature. When Juliana puts a brush in his hand, it sets off a surreal time warp and the canvases eerily transform, painting a different picture of the parents she thought she knew. As tragic secrets emerge that mirror her own, Juliana's old demons come back to haunt her. Consumed with his care and desperate for her old life back, the dream is still chasing her and it's catching up fast. Just when she can't run any faster, the funnel cloud is waiting on the horizon, twisting even faster than before.


The main characters include Juliana Birdsong who is married to a significantly older man named Oliver. Juliana is shallow, sacrificial, judgmental but at the same time she gains some backbone and changes throughout the novel. She also wants to please her parents and help her mother become normal. Oliver is a very incredibly charismatic and attention seeking man who is in love with himself and feels he is the best thing since sliced bread. Richard Birdsong is Juliana's older gay  brother who seems to have fear of having children but is protective and has his own issues. Other characters include Hugh Birdsong who is an artist and has married Carmen, Juliana's mother and tries to deal with his wife's mental state as well as Richard's life partner Wally who dreams of having his own children, there is also the lawyer and a new friend that also went through divorce and has a negative reputation.


Accept things that are meant to be


The story is written in first person narrative from Juliana's point of view and it flows in a linear way, although I did feel certain aspects weren't explained well. I didn't really understand the reason why Juliana's mother behaved the way she did, but I did appreciate how art played a big picture in capturing memories that were forgotten by her father. I also didn't really understand the funnel cloud and the father, although I liked how they changed after that particular scene.

Author Information:
(From TLC)

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Martha Louise HunterAbout Martha Louise Hunter

Martha Louise Hunter has an English degree from the University of Texas. After writing magazine features, working in politics and owning homebuilding and interior design companies, she now has an estate jewelry collection, www.marthasjewelrycase.com. With four children between them, she and her husband, David live in Austin, Texas. This is her first novel.
Painting Juliana was awarded finalist in the Writers League of Texas Mainstream Fiction Contest.
For more information, please visit: www.marthalouisehunter.com.
You can also keep up with her at her blog, www.beingmarthalouisehunter.com.

I wanted to give the book 4.5 stars, but I figure that getting caught up in the story and the characters is more important. This is a ride that I won't forget. First of all I love the cover, love the characters no matter how much some of them made me want to, well, slap them (I'm looking at you Oliver) I do admit that Juliana herself isn't nice, but compared to Oliver she seems like Mother Theresa. I also love the imagery, the world, and the twists and turns the story takes place. What did seem to bug me a lot is that the story seems to be disconnected in every chapter, and the chapters are very short. Also as well there was difficulty for me in understanding some of the story lines and trying to put the story together, which means I will probably have to re-read it soon and perhaps then I can understand the story. Best way to think of the book is like either a puzzle or a mosaic of sorts for the mind, at least when it comes to Juliana's background story.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Tuesday, September 30th: she treads softly
Friday, October 3rd: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, October 7th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, October 8th: nightlyreading
Monday, October 13th: BoundbyWords
Thursday, October 16th: M. Denise C.
Monday, October 20th: The Road to Here
Tuesday, October 21st: 5 Minutes For Books
5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one so much and that you want to read it again to make sure you caught everything. That's the sign of a great book for me!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  2. I appreciate this so much! Thank you Sveta & thank you Heather! xo MLH


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