Novels: Millersburg, Bridie and Finn, The Botticelli Angel, and Speaking of Cats
Praise for MILLERSBURG
“A chilling, beautifully characterized account of a family torn apart after a dual murder strikes their small New Jersey town on the eve of World War II. A famous New York tenor and a married society lady have been stabbed to death at the woman’s lake house, their bodies horribly mutilated. The Wayland family was New York City aristocracy until the Depression, when Byard Wayland squandered his fortune and his ferociously expedient widow, known as Mamu, reconstituted the country house at Millersburg, N.J., into a working family farm. The family consists of Mamu; daughter, Eulalie; two teenage grandchildren, Estella and narrator Ben; an eccentric uncle, Josh who lives on the property; and an African-American couple, Osceola and Priddie, invaluable in keeping the land profitable. To the shock of everyone, Uncle Josh knew the woman—in fact he’d been having an affair with her. With tremendous skill and narrative patience, Cauley portrays this close-knit clan teeming with passionate secrets, and to the reader’s delight, each character manages to turn in an unexpected performance. In the end, all are transformed by love.” —Kirkus
“Memorable characters include Ben's sweet sister, Estella; his seemingly fragile mother, Eulalie; and the true heads of the Wayland household, Priddie and Osceola Flowers, employed by the domineering Mamu, whose bitterness and anger are as fully evoked as the farm and goats she loves more than anything or anyone. Cauley, who's also a playwright and actor, doesn't waste a word in this exquisite time capsule.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
THE NEW YORK TIMES November 16, 2006 MILLERSBURG By Harry Cauley
203 pages. The Permanent Press. $26.
In the summer of 1939 Ben Whyte is about to turn 17 on a New Jersey farm ruled by the imperious Mamu Wayland, his grandmother. The precariously balanced household also includes his mother; his sister, Estella; his bookish uncle Josh; and Osceola and Priddie Flowers, a black couple who started out as servants and have become his grandmother’s business partners in the farm. When Marius Dorfman, a world famous tenor, and Gloria Gardiner, a woman who, one character points out, was “not Mr. Dorfman’s wife,” are discovered brutally murdered in her house on Miller Lake, secrets are revealed and the Waylands begin to spin out of Mamu’s control.
PEOPLE, November 13, 2006 Millersburg by Harry Cauley REVIEWED BY ALLISON LYNN
Novel It’s the summer of 1939, and, while Europe erupts in war, a local drama captivates sleepy Millersburg, N.J.: Two week-enders have been murdered. The gruesome crime takes a particular toll on teen Ben Whyte and his kin living on the faltering family estate. Though they farm the land together, Cauley’s insular protagonists keep their private lives to themselves. But Cauley delivers a shock to the Whytes, and as their history begins to unravel, Ben discovers what it really means to grow up. Cauley delightfully relays his layered saga in prose as thick and languorous as a New Jersey afternoon in July.