Cover image for Right from wrong
Right from wrong
Bonner, Cindy, 1953-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1999.
Physical Description:
329 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This is the fouth of Cindy Bonner's deliciously romantic historic novels. And once again she perfectly captures the spirit of another time. Here are Texas farm families swept up in the drama of World War I and the devastation of their young men who fought it. Again, Bonner's vivid characters grab us by the lapels on page one.

Almost from the day she was born - in 1901 in McDade, Texas - Sunny Delony adored her first cousin, Gil. Their mothers are sisters and raised their children as if they were siblings, with all the teasing, wrestling, and running wild.

Sunny can't say exactly when their puppy love turned into the full-blown grown-up kind, but before she was fifteen - and Gil seventeen - she knew something had changed. Her mother and aunt knew it, too. They wasted no time preaching right from wrong and describing the consequences of what they deemed "incest."

Taking those warnings to heart, Gil volunteered for the army. While he was fighting France, Sunny married a local boy, only the first in a string of mistakes that lead to broken hearts, broken marriages, lost lives, family condemnation, financial ruin, exile. Ultimately, their passion caused them to flee for their lives and those of their children. But somehow, wrong always felt right to Sunny and Gil.

Right from Wrong is a beautiful - and wrenching - love story.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Can love be evil? Bonner returns to her territory of the heart, McDade, Texas, in a loosely connected sequel to The Passion of Dellie O'Barr (1996). It's 1914, and 12-year-old Sunny DeLony knows her love for her cousin Gil is not cousinly, and, sure enough, when they're caught kissing, their mothers' wrath is frightening to behold. Citing damnation, Satan, and incest, the mothers manage to separate Sunny and Gil for several years, but as soon as Sunny sees Gil again, her feelings return stronger than ever. Gil tries to keep Sunny at arm's length, and when he can't, he enlists and goes off to fight the Great War. Time, distance, and exposure to new cultures only serve to convince Gil that Sunny is the only girl he'll ever love, but, in despair, Sunny has married someone else. There is no end to their passion, however, and they end up facing ostracism and exile. Bonner handles a delicate subject with nerve, precision, and frank ambiguity, captivating her readers with such a wealth of vivid detail that they will live her characters' lives, not just imagine them. --Melanie Duncan

Publisher's Weekly Review

We're back in the town of McDade, Tex., for another installment in the family saga that Bonner began with Lily, but that turf may be drying up. This serpentine tale begins breathlessly, when 12-year-old Sunny Deloney's mama walks out on her husband, Dade (she later accepts his blandishments and returns), and goes to stay with Aunt Prudie. There Sunny reconnects with her 14-year-old first cousin Gil Dailey, and they seal their fate with a forbidden kiss. The balance of the novel covers the next 13 years, from 1913 to 1926, with sexually charged encounters between the cousins dotting some otherwise uninspired prose. Sunny marries an alcoholic, abusive husband; Gil goes off to war in Europe. Each tries to forget the other in the arms of various people they don't love; finally, they run off together. Although most of the narrative shifts between Sunny's and Gil's third-person perspectives, the final chapters are Sunny's first-person account of events. This shuttling back and forth results in a sacrifice of the careful structuring of previous novels in the series, and readers may also miss the colorful Texas dialect of the earlier books, which seems muted here. Bonner also skimps on establishing a sense of place, evoked in the first chapter but scanted later. The narrative often stretches readers' credulity as the lovers sacrifice family, income and health to continue their incestuous love. Sentimental fans will probably stay glued, however, through a sufficiency of melodramatic plot twists that accentuate the pathos of the doomed love affair. Author tour. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Born near the turn of the century, cousins Sunny DeLony and Gill Dailey were good friends as youngsters and something closer as they became teens. But admonitions from their mothers of sin and incest could keep them apart only so long. In her fourth novel of the DeLony family of McDade, TX, Bonner (The Passion of Dellie O'Barr, LJ 1/96) takes on the next generation, featuring Sunny (the beloved daughter of Dane DeLony), her first cousin on her mother's side, and their love that wouldn't die. Not that the course of this love runs smooth: when Gil serves in France during World War I, Sunny marries and has a child, whose tragic death seems to split the couple irrevocably; later marriages seem destined to keep them forever apart. Happiness and tragedy alternate here as in life itself, and Bonner tells stories so straightforward and true that the reader is soon immersed. A treat for fans of the McDade cycle, this should win Bonner new readers as well.¬ĎMichele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Excerpted from Chapter Eleven of Right from Wrong a novel by Cindy Bonner Sunny was right where Gil had left her, nose red from the cold, eyes red, too, but she wasn't crying anymore. He was glad of that much. But the swollen place on her cheekbone made him want to hunt down that bastard husband of hers and gut him like a fish. The suit coat belonged to Gabe O'Barr, lent to Gil by Gabe's mother, and the sleeves hung so long on Sunny she looked like her hands were missing. It brought an image to Gil's mind of some of those boys on the ship coming back. Her fingertips emerged when she lifted her arms to take the baby against her and the image receded. "Thank you," she murmured, and folded a flap of the coat around Isabel's little head. Even after all the work he'd put in on the Hudson that afternoon, the damned thing wouldn't start. He'd spent three hours at Uncle Dane's workbench cleaning the carburetor with spirit oil, taking it apart, putting it back together again, but the choke still wouldn't close right. He got out in the stinging wind and shut it manually, and when the car still wouldn't start, he let loose with a string of swearwords before he remembered Sunny sitting beside him. "Well," she said. "I guess they taught you how to cuss over there." "Sorry." She shrugged and turned her attention back on the baby, patting her to sleep. The car finally fired up on the tenth try and held. He pumped the accelerator to prime the carburetor. He checked to see if the air register beneath Sunny's feet was open to let in the heat funneled back from the radiator. "It'll warm up in here in a minute," he said, holding his hand hat toward the floor, but he might as well have been talking to himself. She was staring off out her window. He shifted into gear and moved the car from the church lot. In the dim glow from the dashboard, he could see that her jaw had also swollen out of shape. That place on her cheekbone was high enough to creep into a shiner. Everybody would know then that her pissant husband had smacked her. He didn't think Uncle Dane would tolerate a shiner on her, no more than Gil himself planned to. Uncle Dane kept a shotgun in his barn, a heavy-bore, single-barrel shotgun that would even up the odds if that little bastard's brother or his buddy tried to involve themselves. The wind was vicious and it took both hands to hold the car on the road. He tried to keep an eye out for ruts, but it was hard with Sunny tugging at his concentration. The tires hit a few. The silence between them seemed to gather its own momentum, and he knew if he didn't speak soon the opportunity would be lost. He said, "Is it because of how he looks? Blond hair and blue eyes?" She turned her face toward him, coming out of whatever trance she'd been in. "What?" "He treats you like dirt. And if he's got any brains, he doesn't show it. So I figure it must be his looks." Gil almost missed a curve watching for her answer. He had to oversteer to keep the car on the road. "So tell me what you see in him. Give me something to go on." She bent toward the baby in her lap. "He never lifted a hand to me before." "Well, now he has. And that'll make it easier for him next time. And before you know it, he'll be slapping you around whenever he feels like it. Any time you don't answer him quick enough, or he doesn't like what you have to say." They came up on the last turn to the farm and he wasn't ready to be there yet. He still had things to say, questions to ask her, answers to hear. And he knew once they got there she'd go running off into her room, avoiding him like she'd been doing since he arrived. So he pulled the car over to the side of the road. The headlamps caught tufts of muley grass lying supine in the fierce wind. He took the car out of gear and let up on the clutch. He couldn't stand too much of that clutch. He massaged his left thigh, kept his right foot on the brake. "Grab yourself some sense, Sunny, and quit him. Do it right now." She patted her baby's back, but it had become more like a nervous tic than necessary. Isabel was fast asleep, and Sunny's eyes were fastened on him. "It's none of your business, Gil." "Well, maybe I'll make it my business. Uncle Dane offered to lease me a piece of the Kennedy tract. Maybe I'll just take him up on it." "What? Why would you do that? You hate farming." "Yeah, that was my first thought, too. But now I don't know. Maybe it's not such a bad idea. Got no other prospects looming on my horizon. And it seems like you need somebody around here looking out for you." She stared at him, then she tucked Isabel against her shoulder and reached for the door lever. "Thanks for bringing me home. I can walk from here." He grabbed her before she could get the door open. "Dammit, Sunny, stop acting like you don't know me." "Quit trying to butt in, Gil!" The baby went to fussing at the loud talk and at getting jostled around. Sunny took up her patting again, faster and harder, but at least she settled back from the door. He left his arm resting on the seat behind her, watched her calm Isabel down again. He quelled the urge to apologize. "I don't know what you expect of me," he said, speaking quieter. "When I think about you going around with a guy like that-" "I'm not going around with him. He's my husband." "You know what I mean." He let his hand touch her shoulder. He could feel her bones, small and fragile, through the thick wool of the jacket. "You were supposed to wait for me." "You told me to forget you." "No, I did not say that." "To stop thinking about you, then. It's the same thing." She dropped her head back against the seat of the car and his arm, as if she were too tired to use her neck anymore. Little Isabel had gone back to sleep, and a tear glittered down Sunny's face. A sharp gust rocked the car, whistled around the windows. He reached across and gentled his thumb along the curve of her throat. She didn't move. "So did you?" he said. "Stop thinking about me?" She kept on staring at the roof of the car, her neck ivory white and smooth. She swallowed and turned her face toward him. Later he would try to remember if he kissed her first or if she kissed him, but whichever the case, passion took control of it. He remembered the taste of her lips, the desire she roused in him. He pulled her closer and he never even felt his foot leave the brake pedal. The road at that particular spot was fairly level, but with a subtle slope to the ditch for drainage. Gil had stopped the car a little to the right of the center, so there was a slight incline, just enough to start the rotation of the wheels. That afternoon he had set the idle higher to compensate for the temperamental choke, and without his foot on the brake to hold the car back, they went bouncing out into the ditch, up onto the other side, and smacked into a barbed-wire fence. Luckily it didn't take but a second or two for Gil's reflexes to recover. Any longer and they might have plowed right through that fence and into Ezra Hennesey's cow pasture. "Are you OK?" he said, after he had bucked the car to a halt. Sunny had a tight hold on little Isabel, but the baby didn't appear to have even awakened. A feisty Boston terrier-type dog came woofng out onto the road at them. Sunny laughed, a releasing kind of laugh, the same way she had laughed at his teasing her during the pageant. The sound of it sent his heart beating again. He almost forgot that the car was spraddling the ditch and reached to pull her back in his arms. Out on the road, the terrier kept raising hell. "Mr. Hennesey'll be coming out any minute." She sounded gleeful and mischievous. She tugged away. "Can you get us out of here?" He touched her hair, kissed her baby's head, and shifted the Hudson into reverse. The wheels spun dust for a second before they caught hold. The barbed wire scraped a long, screaming gash down the side, but the car needed a new paint job anyway. He shifted gears again and pulled out onto the road. Copyright (c) 1999 by Cindy Bonner. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Right from Wrong: A Novel by Cindy Bonner All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.