Obsession drives Sean Marcum to find the meaning of his mother's swan song. The last words she wrote in her journal were, 'Fuller Brush Man'. She always communicated life's most important lessons via riddles, and he is convinced this is her finale. Sadly, Sean was never good at solving riddles, and his quest turns into a dangerous preoccupation nearly costing him his marriage and his life.
Sean's high school sweetheart, Kim, had a special bond with his mother. She was also a master at riddles. The one-time lovers have been married to others for more than 30 years. Kim's marriage has been picture perfect, Sean's not so much. Upon Kim's death from breast cancer, Sean receives a memoir she penned celebrating their failed relationship. Her book, 'The Road to Monticello', contains the secret to a long, happy relationship for which Sean so desperately searches. It is a lesson all of us should take to heart.
A footnote - While my novel deals with the Fuller Brush Company indirectly, it has a role as co-star in my novel. A local Champaign-Urbana acquaintance, Dewey Hollingsworth, shared a caricature and photo of his father who was a local Fuller Brush Man in my home town. Please enjoy them to your right and below.
In Search of the Fuller Brush Man is a lesson in life. For those in doubt, there are angels, and there is love after death. Sean Marcum is a successful man who is troubled by the combination of his mid-life crisis, stress in his marriage to wife Dixie, the twentieth anniversary of his mother’s death, and now, the death of his high school sweetheart, Kim. Adding to this angst is Sean’s obsession over a journal his mother kept while she slowly withered away. Her last entry contained the words "Fuller Brush Man", and Sean is certain she was sending him a message. But what was that message?
Kim was an aspiring writer who was happy to give up that dream for her husband, her marriage, and her children. However, in the background she had been crafting a novel—a novel about undying love. In it, she tries to guide Sean’s likeness to happiness. Sean receives Kim’s novel after her death and he is mesmerized by it. There’s just one catch, it has no ending…or does it?
This is an inspiring, yet heart-wrenching story about relationships, dreams, and finding one’s self, regardless of who you are, or where you are in life.
In Search of the Fuller Brush Man is mainstream fiction, set in present day suburban Chicago as well as my home town of Urbana, Illinois. The catalyst for the manuscript was my late mother's journal in which she wrote at the end - I kid you not - the words "Fuller Brush Man". What if I turned the pursuit of finding the meaning of these words into an obsession? Hence, the book's plot. The main character must come to terms with his past in order to move on with his life. What's more, the common issues faced by the main characters in FBM are what many of us can relate to in our own lives. I feel this draws the reader into the novel.
The message I want to give in FBM is that nothing is more important than the relationship one has with a spouse or significant other, and I hope to drive this point home in a most poignant manner. FBM was a joy to write and is my first published novel. It is deeply personal. To this day I cannot read it without weeping.
Warning for readers. Some language may not be appropriate for young readers.
Sexual & violent content: All of my novels have at least a few steamy scenes that leave much to the imagination. This novel is one of them. Most of my readers look forward to them. They are tastefully done. There are no explicit sex scenes. There is some violence including suicidal ideations. If these subjects offend you or bother you in some manner, you may wish to choose another one of my novels.
"The book's strength is its humor. Attention-deprived wife, Dixie, gets out some good lines while goading her Fuller Brush-obsessed husband, Sean... The whole concept of going ga-ga over the ultimate in mundane is interesting."
--2010 ABNA Reviewer #1
"I love, love, love this story. ...this novel also has something new to offer, especially in the endearing relationship between Dixie and Sean and in Sean's obsessions with his mother's dying words." --2010 ABNA Reviewer #2
"For me, this novel is reminiscent of a Wes Anderson film, especially with all the characters' various quirks and flaws... I was especially engaged and compelled in reading. I found myself wanting to read more and more..." --2010 ABNA Reviewer #3
"A book with clean heart and truth that any person who knows the value of love and respect will appreciate. Well done!"--Shannon Yarbrough of LL Book Review
"...it's a very compelling and interesting story. As the novel proceeds, the narrative voice becomes stronger and the characters more three dimensional. ... during the last one hundred pages, I just couldn't put the book down." --Liz Sharp
"Amazing book... The humor was just right, and the thread about searching for the Fuller Brush Man pulls you along. This is a book I'll remember for a long time, unlike so many that are fun while reading, but soon forgotten." --Jan Christensen
"I was drawn into the story within a handful of chapters, and before I was even half-way through I found that I really didn't want to put it down. The characters are complex and very believable, and become even more engrossing as the story progresses. Carlyle's writing style is wonderfully smooth, neither too complex nor overly simplistic. All in all, this was a totally enjoyable read for me, and now I find myself hoping that there will be more books by this author..."
"The story that Mr. Carlyle weaves, slowly pulls you in over the first few chapters - then the book just won't let you put it down. It's a treasure hunt, mystery, love story, and an action/adventure all rolled into one..."
"What a delightful read! I know that I am really enjoying a book when I am nearing the end and I am torn between wanting to know how it ends and not wanting it to end..."
Published in 2010.
The novel has been recognized by the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, the Spring 2010 Houston Writers Guild Novel Contest, and the 2010 William Faulkner - William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition!
On April 4, 2012, FBM joined the "freshman class" as a 2012 B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree !!!! The Book Readers Appreciation Group has identified the best in self-published novels. I sincerely appreciate this recognition. Please check out their website to see other spectacular novels that have won this award.