Life is good for Dr. Drew Coleman, a successful young eye doctor living in Uptown New Orleans, and he knows it. Having met and married his beautiful medical school classmate, Kate, the two settle happily into the routine of raising their two young daughters.
Drew’s charmed life is soon shattered by devastating news, causing him to go on a ten-year transcontinental journey of self-discovery, during which he explores the nature of God and Man, the divine inspiration for many of New York’s landmarks and artistic treasures, and the relationship between the found and the lost souls passing on the street. He meets a number of memorable characters, including the young blue-haired runaway, Blue, who renounced her given name when forced to leave her Minnesota home with her girlfriend, Anna.
In time, he discovers and explains the scientific basis for the meaning of life, and is finally found, or finds himself, setting the stage for a bittersweet and memorable ending.
Richard Robbins’s literary fiction novel, Love, Loss, and Lagniappe: A Love Story That Defied the Laws of Nature, is a sweet and enthralling tale about two lovers whose chance meeting resonates with each of them for years. Robbins is the consummate guide to Tulane University and New Orleans, and I loved getting to know that city through his story. While I’ve read travel guides about New Orleans, somehow following Drew as he showed “his city” to Kate helped me get a bit closer to the magic and mystery of that historic place. The plot is engaging and unpredictable in the best of ways, and the character study of Drew is unforgettable and profound, especially his time spent on the road and on the Appalachian Mountain Trail. Love, Loss, and Lagniappe: A Love Story That Defied the Laws of Nature is most highly recommended.
Richard Robbins’ debut novel, Love, Loss and Lagniappe, is not merely a simple romance novel, as the title states, of love and loss. It is a far more complex tale that goes beyond entertainment and encourages readers to think and consider a few concepts in life and relationships such as love at first sight, and sacrifice for the good of loved ones. Detailed descriptions of the cities in which Drew lived in or traveled through paint a vivid picture throughout the novel. Those descriptions, coupled with a memorable cast of characters, will hook readers from the sweet beginning, carefully guide them through the tragic and shocking middle, and will gently take them to the bittersweet ending. Love, Loss and Lagniappe will leave readers (especially book groups) thinking about the events in this fast-paced story and how it unfolds, and asking themselves, “What would I do in this situation?” long after completion of this book.
Quill says: If you are looking for a great read with a little something extra, search no further, Love, Loss and Lagniappe is the novel for you.
Critique: "Love, Loss, and Lagniappe " is all the more impressive when considering that author Richard Robbins' debut as a novelist. Written with a genuine flair for originality, Robbins has created a cast of distinctive characters deftly embedded in a narrative driven, exceptionally engaging story that holds the readers fully engaged attention from beginning to end. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Love, Loss, and Lagniappe" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99, www.amazon.com).
This is a fast-paced novel, with great moments of joy and devastating moments of heartbreak and sadness. Drew is the main character, and how he deals with life-changing moments are the foundation of this captivating novel. His choices are authentic and powerful yet could easily be misunderstood. There are layers of meaning, and an astute reader will dig in and truly relish the nuances within this plot. There is nothing like a long walk to clear the mind and discover life’s meanings. Author Richard Robbins has skillfully crafted a thoughtful romantic fictional work in Love, Loss and Lagniappe: A Love Story That Defied the Laws of Nature. This is much more than a romantic story!
Reviewed by Benjamin Ookami for Readers' Favorite - 5 Stars
Though this five-part novel starts out as one, this is not a romance story. Robbins puts a scintillating spotlight on those difficult decisions we have to make sometimes so that the people we love can remain happy. Even so, one reads this book hoping that Drew does not remain on his path. Providing a scientific answer as to what the meaning of life is at the end, Richard Robbins certainly inspires his readers to do what they believe to be the right thing.
Is it better to take the risk and pursue the glory of fame and fortune, or to live a simpler, more grounded life?
Follow the fates of two families, one wealthy and powerful, the other blue collar, from a chance meeting at a Florida poolside, to the highest levels of politics and power. This sweeping saga of love, war, money, and power leaves each family weighing their duty to their family versus service to their country.
It all leads to a fateful choice—a sacrifice—which could change the course of history.
Panicles is a great story of family legacy, the trials and tribulations of life, the joy and happiness of caring friendship and so much more. I am hoping for book two to see how the story continues. Author Richard Robbins has written this book with understanding, caring and making each character come alive on the pages. The very surprising ending is one I never saw coming and you will have to read Panicles to find out each of the dramatic events that make this book so good. Panicles will make you think, make you cry, make you laugh and smile and keep you reading until the very end. Panicles deserves to be added high up on your reading list.
Reviewed by D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer for Midwest Book Reviews
Panicles opens with a literal bang. Emerson Murnane has just had a car accident after some light drinking, calls driver and caretaker Mike for help, and wonders if this is the end of his goal of running for office. But Mike has connections, cleans up and hides the event, and Emerson is back on track with his political aspirations. Or, is he?
Two powerful families are changed during the course of Panicles. The Murnane family and the Wax family both experience the challenge of playing by the rules (or not), building a comfortable life for themselves and future generations, and dealing with high level political power plays that challenge their ideals and decisions.
Richard Robbins creates a compelling series of events where the juxtaposition of personal and political interests sparks conflict, but is careful to inject family dynamics and legal considerations into his saga of election processes and ethical decisions.
As readers move from Emerson's challenge and eventual fall to the processes, politics, and meaning of leading a privileged life with all of its underlying perks ("That’s one of the privileges of wealth: the ability to hide things."), they receive a story fueled not just by social and political aspirations, but the interrelationships of very different families and individuals.
Readers who enjoy novels steeped in a sense of purpose and psychological insight and inspection will relish this story because it doesn't take the easy way out by following predictable social climbs, but includes plenty of serious inspection of purpose and personal responsibility as the characters hone their goals and test their values against life's ups and downs.
Fame, fortune, and achievement leave each family in the story considering the ultimate impact, costs, and effects of wealth and power, and their considerations of these challenges and the extent of their duty to self and country create involving scenarios and revelations that make for a fast-paced, purposeful, well-written production.
Novel readers who like their social and political insights steeped in psychological revelation will relish Panicles, which places history-changing events firmly in the realm of generational aspirations, experiences, influences, and choices.
What would you choose between a quiet private life and a public life that can be very rewarding but also risky? I think that we have asked ourselves this question at least once in our lives. Richard Robbins asks his readers the same question in his novel, Panicles. This amazing book tells the story of the Murnanes, a wealthy family with serious political ambitions, and of the Wax family, which finds prosperity thanks to an unexpected legacy. Scandals and questionable political actions surround the characters. Good ideas turn out to have negative consequences, while morally reprehensible actions can have positive results. What is the price to pay?
Panicles is a novel that invites reflection with its subtle and significant meaning. The characters have serious decisions to make, and often they are not blameless. Robbins does not openly condemn disputable deeds, but he rather aims at showing how difficult it is to make the right choices. He does not prevent further discussion by giving a definitive answer, but he presents the facts and lets the reader decide what is good and what is not. Panicles is not just about politics, however. Family is also an important topic, and Robbins develops this theme with remarkable skill. In a delightful scene at the beginning, Little Emily, the Murnanes’ daughter, cries because the flowers are dead. This scene comes to the reader's mind later when she explains what Panicles are, and her explanation adds a deeper meaning to the story. Connections, effects, and a great storyline make Panicles a remarkable novel from many points of view.
The author has chosen a title that aptly represents the plot; a panicle is a “loosely clustered branch of flowers.” He introduces the history and current lives of Emerson and Fiona Murnane, as well as “Dodah,” Paul’s aunt, who has a special familial connection to him. Their influence on the two young couples is strong, just as the influence of the young parents is upon their children. Richard Robbins has presented a cast of interesting characters, and each one is fully explored. The plot engages the reader from the first page to the last. The writing style is fast-paced and flows smoothly. Author Richard Robbins has penned a captivating novel in Panicles. A fascinating read!
Reviewed By Ellen Feld for Feathered Quill - Highest Honors
Qilll Says: Richard Robbins has constructed a dynamic, dramatic story of two families entangled in the same lines of family destiny. This cross-generational tale grows and branches out until finally, after sunlight and storm, it will come to full bloom.