Cover image for Catching heaven
Catching heaven
Hall, Sands.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Ballantine, [2000]

Physical Description:
374 pages ; 25 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Willa Wellowby's house has been overrun by monkeys. They're ballet dancing, playing the bagpipes, listening to the Beatles, and causing mayhem and distruction all over the house and yard. And the more Willa asks them to leave, the more havoc they wreak. She calls the police, the RCMP, the FBI, and Scotland Yard to get rid of these monkeys...but when the Mounties finally show up, it's Willa who's in trouble!

First published in 1992, There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen won the Mr. Christie Award for Best Canadian Children's book. With hillarious new illustrations by Sydney Smith and Sheree Fitch's zany rhymes, this edition will introduce the bestselling book to a whole new generation.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This elegantly crafted first novel is the story of converging lives, each separating at a pivotal turning point. Maud, just over 40, leaves her boyfriend, her home in Los Angeles, and her dreams of being a Hollywood success. She packs her car and drives to Marengo, New Mexico, where her sister Lizzie lives with her three young children, each of whom has a different father. Jake, the father of Lizzie's youngest, has just returned from Nashville where he fled, searching for success and love, when he and Lizzie separated. This is a complex story, messy as real life, and told in a most compelling way. Maud's love of theater is infectious, and she finds success on a new level, different and more fulfilling than the stressful years she spent in L.A. But a series of tragic family crises impacts the lives of Lizzie and her children, and she is forced to experience and express emotions that have long been buried. Eventually it is the tie of kinship and the value of connection that triumph. --Grace Fill

Publisher's Weekly Review

Hall's first novel meticulously details Southwestern life and the rancor of middle-aged sibling rivalry in a variation on one of Aesop's venerable fables. Lizzie Maxwell, a 39-year-old single mother, is the country mouse who once thought she'd paint in Paris, but now designs greeting cards and teaches art in the historic town of Marengo. Her 41-year-old sister, Maud Maxwell, is the city mouse who lives in Los Angeles and acts in TV dramas, sitcoms and commercials. The rivalry between the two dates back to childhood: Lizzie believes their parents always loved Maud best. Fed up with her fading career and her long-time lover, Miles, a musician who refuses to give her a child, Maud walks out on an embarrassing commercial audition, and on Miles, too. She drives to Marengo, where Lizzie and her three children (each fathered by a different man, none of whom Lizzie has married) have been living for 15 years. The tensions between the sisters, who envy each other's lives, escalate over a nine-month period. Maud finds a small house and a job as a saloon singer and piano teacher. She has brief affairs with Driver, a Native American activist, and Rich, an abusive young cowboy, and assumes an ever-larger role in the life of Lizzie's middle child, third-grader Summer. Lizzie's jealousy grows when Maud develops relationships with Sam, an elderly American Indian who is Lizzie's best friend and was her first lover in Marengo, and Jake Arboles, the father of Lizzie's youngest child. Although frequently awkward in the telling, and spotted with clich‚s, the novel conveys the pathos of the middle-aged realization that some optionsÄincluding those of motherhood and artistic achievementÄeventually expire. Major ad/promo; 5-city author tour. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This quirky, uneven first novel is laced with frequent flashes of brilliance and potential but often relies on clichs. Two sisters, New Mexico artist Lizzie and Hollywood actress Maud, slip and slide in the detritus of their very different childbearing decisions and life choices. Maud flees her L.A. television-commercial career and songwriter boyfriend and arrives in Marengo, NM, with a bruised psyche that even hard-nosed Lizzie is unable to mend. Lizzie, a college instructor and greeting-card artist, has purposefully woven a life with three children by three different fathers because she enjoys pregnancy and nursing far more than the complications of life with a man. Maud and Lizzie struggle for meaning and renewal in different ways, while an assortment of odd but mostly believable Marengo cowboys, Native Americans, impressionable young people, and Baby Theo's father, Jake, inhabit their worldsDsometimes comfortably, often painfully. For larger public libraries.DSusan A. Zappia, Paradise Valley Community Coll., Phoenix (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



MAUD I have been studying how I may compare This prison where I live unto the world RICHARD II The sky was still dark when Maud closed the motel door behind her. Shivering, she crossed the street to the twenty-four-hour restaurant and bought a cup of coffee from a yawning waitress. She'd left the freeway late the day before, turning east onto a two-lane highway. Now it unfurled ahead of her headlights, which she kept on high beam except for the rare times a truck or car approached. She thought how like eyes the bright lights coming at her were, and how easy it would be to swerve into their oncoming glare. An hour after dawn, a small town rose like a mirage out of the Arizona desert. Maud passed the flickering sign of a burger stand, a gas station, a battered motel before pulling in at Maria's Trading Post, whose attractions--GAS! MUTTON! NAILS! FLOUR!--were advertised on a hand-lettered sandwich board at the edge of the road. The gas tanks were round-topped, old-fashioned. There seemed to be no expectation that she pay before pumping the gas. The latch on the trigger was broken. As Maud leaned against her car, holding the nozzle in the fill hole, she had another wince of memory. Actually, it was more than a wince, the rearranging of her shoulders she'd had to do when images of the Cheesios audition, of Miles, of Nikos' acting class leered towards her as she drove. A fragment of one of the days she'd worked on Tucker's Larks pushed at her. When she'd filmed her short though vital scene with Tucker, the actor hadn't actually been present. He was in Chicago playing baseball for a handicapped children's benefit--they planned to film his lines later. "Virtual Tucker," a crew member joked. In the sterile, muted space of a police interrogation room that was the set, Maud emoted her half of the scene to the plaid shoulder of the cameraman. Off to one side, the scriptgirl read Tucker's dialogue in a flat, nasal voice. "Wait a bit after each line," the director coached Maud. "I know that's tough, given the, like, highly charged context of the scene, but we can't have any overlap." The trigger beneath her finger clicked. Maud pulled at it a few more times, watching the numbers on the gas pump inch by. This isn't acting, she'd wanted to tell the people gathered in the room, wielding boom mikes, lights, makeup brushes. She replaced the nozzle in its slot in the gas pump. I will not keep this form upon my head , Constance, pulling at her hair, tells King John just before she exits and goes mad. When there is such disorder in my wit. The wind pushed out of the desert, flattening her skirt against her legs. Maud closed her eyes before its chafing warmth, holding her hair back from her face with fingers that smelled of gasoline. -- 'tis an unwanted garden --no, that wasn't right-- 'tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed. Fie on't, ah fie. A large yellow car with fins, parked askew, guarded the door to Maria's Trading Post. Its back seat was filled with newspapers. Both taillights were broken, and the paint above the tire wells badly rusted. The screen door screeched as she opened it, activating several buzzing flies. A man leaned against the counter, watching a woman hack with a cleaver at a glistening haunch of meat. On his cheek was a constellation of pockmarks--a swirl, a small galaxy of indented scars. The door slapped shut. "Sorry," Maud said, using a French accent. The woman gestured with the cleaver. "But get that car to Sara anyway." It took a moment for Maud to realize that this instruction was not meant for her. The man leveled dark eyes in her direction, then went back to brooding on the skinned carcass. Maud made out angles of marbled fat and blood that might have been part of a leg, cut off above the knee. A cowboy hat sat beside this on the counter, jaunty, incongruent. She turned away, into an aisle, walking past huge cans of chili and hominy, cellophane packages of HoHos, boxes of cornflakes and saltines, loaves of Wonder bread. She stared at a shelf that held polyester shorts and sneakers, wondering if this man and this woman held their pockmarked faces against her, her and her kind. "Need help?" the woman called. Desperately , Maud thought. "Merci," she said. "I am just looking." She didn't know why she'd started with the French accent but she didn't know how to stop now. She stared down into hunched burlap sacks of flour, beans, dried corn that stood at the back of the store. After searching for an apple or an orange, she settled for a package of sunflower seeds from a dusty display next to the cash register. She handed a twenty to the woman. "I would take this, please. And I put the fifteen dollars of the gas in the car." Her ability to use a French accent had always been rather dismal. The woman looked at her sharply before lifting a cash box up from beneath the counter. Excerpted from Catching Heaven by Sands Hall 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.