Wednesday 10 October 2012

The Artist Unleashed: LEAVING THE HALL LIGHT ON, by Madeline Sharples

Madeline Sharples was one of those Lucky Press authors whose book was left in limbo after the company closed down this year. But thankfully, Madeline found another publisher, and they have put her wonderful book out again in paperback. So today, I'm re-posting my review of her amazingly brilliant memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. This book is one of the most amazing books I have ever read, so please, read on, and help Madeline get her sales momentum back! ~Jessica

Leaving the Hall Light OnLeaving the Hall Light On by Madeline Sharples
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This memoir pins you down and never lets go. There wasn't one moment where I wasn't thinking about Madeline's heartbreak, and Paul's suffering, and anticipating the time I could sit down and read it again in peace. You want to immerse yourself in total silence while reading this extraordinarily powerful story. I'm not sure why I felt this way. Perhaps it was a subconscious act of respect. Perhaps I felt as if Madeline, Paul, Bob and Ben, needed my undivided attention. Actually, I think that is the reason. It was as if I wasn't even reading, but watching the story unfold right before my very eyes. Who wants background noise when someone is pouring their heart out to you? I certainly don't.

I cried. Three times, in fact. The first time straight after the very first paragraph. The second time during one of Bob's (Madeline's husband) journal entries describing the scene of finding their son, Paul, dead, in a pool of blood, in their bath, throat and wrists slit. And the third time after reading a poem called "A Stone Called Son".

I don't think I can justifiably describe how I'm feeling about this book. Tears are welling up in my eyes as I'm writing this, trying to figure out how to express myself. My gosh, I'm a writer and I can't find the words to tell you how much I wish every single person on this planet would read this book.

Reasons to read this, off the top of my head:

  • Because it will teach you not to judge.
  • Because it will teach you how to behave around people who are grieving.
  • Because sometimes you need a reality check.
  • Because Madeline has written a book about one of the most difficult experiences in her life and it should be rewarded.
  • Because you want to. Believe me, you do. No matter how heartbreaking the content, you want to read it. You will become a better person afterward.

I tip my hat off to you, Madeline. You are a survivor. You are an inspiration. You make me proud to be a woman.

Purchase on Amazon.

What books have you read recently that have made you feel proud to be who you are?


  1. Wow, this sounds like an intense story. I admire Madeline's courage in writing and publishing her memoir.

    The Diary of Anne Frank always inspires me! I love how Anne retained her faith in humanity and life's beauty despite the evil she was forced to witness.

    1. Thank you, Laura. It's amazing how our tragic stories can turn into inspiring ones.

  2. I'm never not inspired by Angela's Ashes.

    It always reminds me that laughing is so very, very important. And to be grateful for what I have even if it doesn't seem like much to some people. And, well, I just feel like a better person for having read and loved it so much. :)

    1. I also loved Angela's Ashes. It is a story told truthfully and with great sensitivity. Also a very inspiring read.

  3. Nora Ephron's writings inspire me. I write humorous women's fiction. Not much out there. I do like to read other genres and Madeline's sounds like one I would like to read.

    1. One of my favorite authors is Nora Ephron. She and I grew up in the same generation. I heard her speak a couple of times and she was funnier in person. I wish I had had the chance to write with her.

  4. I'm with Cynthia - Angela's Ashes. I recently attended a writing workshop and heard Mahlachy tell the story of how the recovered their baby sisters ashes and reunited them with their mothers. There was not a dry eye in the house....

    1. My son's ashes are among the ashes of so many old folks at the cemetery, it breaks my heart. I think about having his buried with mine when the time comes.

  5. I've read about her book elsewhere - it sounds very powerful.

  6. Thanks so much, Jessica, for posting your wonderful comments about my memoir. You have been a wonderful support and inspiration for all my writing. I very much appreciate your participating in my blog tour.

    By the way, my new publisher is Dream of Things, Mike O'Mary, president. Mike has been fantastic in finding ways to promote my book. If any of you are working on memoirs, he is open to looking at them.
    All best, Madeline


“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin

“I don't ever try to make a serious social comment.” ~Paul McCartney

“I'd make a comment at a meeting and nobody would even acknowledge me. Then some man would say the same thing and they'd all nod.” ~Charlotte Bunch

“Probably what my comment meant was that I don't care about the circumstances if I can tell the truth.” ~Sally Kirkland

“We're not going to pay attention to the silliness and the petty comments. And quite frankly, women have joined me in this effort, and so it's not about appearances. It's about effectiveness.” ~Katherine Harris