University of San Tomas Publishing House, 2017, softcover, 238 pages, ISBN 9780715068116
Finalist for the 37th National Book Award in the Philippines; an early draft under the title Dead Priest in the Creek was Shortlisted for the Cirilo F. Bautista Prize for the Novel, 2015
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Full and Complex Literary Mystery
Inspired by her great-grandmother, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard wrote about a newspaper woman from 1909 who solves a crime in Ubec. Brainard’s great-grandmother was Remedios Diosomito Cuenco who was widowed at the age of 39, and who took over her husband’s Imprenta Rosario press in Cebu, Philippines.
Brainard’s imaginings gave birth to her third novel, The Newspaper Widow (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House 2017), a literary mystery, which starts off with the discovery of a dead priest’s body in a creek, but which is really about the protagonist Ines Maceda and how she fights for her son’s freedom. It is also very much the story of the deepening friendship between two women of opposite temperaments, and of the men in their lives who love and have loved them.
“That super wordsmith from Cebu, the Philippines, Cecilia Brainard, never spins a boring story. Her latest is a master whodunit that is also a period piece, a social document and most of all, a literary jewel. A must read for any humdrum season of the year.” (F. Sionil Jose, Philippine National Artist for Literature)
“An intriguing mystery and also very much the story of the deepening friendship between two women of opposite temperaments, Ines and Melisande, and of the men in their lives who love and have loved them. Beautifully written. Evocative. A rich depiction of character, time and place that will live in a reader’s memory.” (Eve La Salle Caram, Author of TRIO, a Corpus Christi Trilogy)
“While at first glance The Newspaper Widow seems like a standard historical mystery, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Cecilia Manguerra Brainard’s novel is full and complex, overflowing with textured, fully realized characters who drive the story on every page … Cecilia Manguerra Brainard displays masterful storytelling skill in The Newspaper Widow, a unique, memorable mystery.” (Mya Alexice for Foreword Reviews)
“Cecilia Brainard’s deft hand for textured character and nuanced storytelling is on magnificent display in her latest novel The Newspaper Widow. What begins as a murder mystery transforms into something greater along the way, as love, loyalty, and friendship are tested and refined. Shortlisted for the inaugural Cirilo F. Bautista Prize for the Novels, Brainard’s novel is a captivating read.” (Dean Francis Alfar, Author of Salamanca and The Kite and Other Stories)
“Cecilia Brainard’s poetic new novel, The Newspaper Widow, is an enchanting read. She combines compelling characters with an intriguing mystery and page-turning literary suspense. I can’t think of a more fruitful historical setting, the early years of the United State’s colonial empire in Asia, here so beautifully rendered. Beneath the mystery this is a moving story of a mother trying to protect her adult son from prison.” (Brian Ascalon Roley, Author of American Son and The Last Mistress of Jose Rizal)
“This is not your run of the mill ‘who done it.’ Matter of fact, about halfway through The Newspaper Widow, you’ll be certain that the lawyer did it – or did he? But what this is, is Cecilia Brainard weaving her magic of culture, folklore and myth to produce a tapestry of rich Filipino history and that she remains one of its primary artisans.” (James E. Cherry, Author of Edge of the Wind)