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"Few novels present Vietnam so thoroughly and completely with its aftershocks. A story of great courage and tremendous power."
- Robert Stone author of Dog Soldiers


"Skillfully weaving into her novel a story of romantic love and a suspenseful account of a mother’s effort to remain united with her child, Cheryl Drake makes a compelling memorable debut."
- Frederick Busch

Kennebec Journal Interview from Sunday 7/2/06:



"LILY'S GHOST" Gardiner author's novel
a powerful voice for women.

Staff Writer

The heroic deeds of women who serve in war have long been minimized. Until recently, military women have received little official recognition for their contributions and the ordeals they have endured.
Now, Cheryl Drake Harris of Gardiner gives these women a powerful voice in her debut novel, "Lily's Ghost"  (Random House, 2006), set in Maine in the post-Vietnam era. The story centers on Lily Townsend, who had served as a doctor in Vietnam.
In a skillfully crafted collage of first-person memories and inner dialogue, Harris describes Lily's battle-scarred psyche. Her tormented, postwar flashbacks burst like grenades in unexpected places on the page: " . . . I close my eyes and see the mist that rises up from the valley, how the flares make it glow pink like clouds of cotton candy, as if it were spun high in the sky over Pleiku, and always with this image comes the smell of blood. It's under my fingernails, and I feel it, dark and arterial, bloodying the skin under the saturated cloth of my fatigues; aware of it only now, after the kid is gone. I watch as he fast turns to stone, blue-white granite, polished and cool."
Even when she pushes a cart down the supermarket aisle, she is haunted by the image of a child who died of napalm burns:
"No one would get I'm crazy. No one would guess that I just saw a dead child who seems to have followed me from the Highlands of Vietnam . . . ."
But now, she is caught up in a whole other war with different casualties ...fighting a bitter custody battle for her young son.
"Lily feels as real to me as my own family. She has a family. . . and is trying to get through the nightmares of Vietnam and a marriage that has been destroyed," Harris said.
The idea for the book was triggered while she was teaching English at Southern Maine Community College. She saw a documentary about women in war, which included an interview of American nurses in Vietnam.


(excerpted by permission:
David Offer, Kennebec Journal) 




Lily's Ghost