Skip to content

“The Big Broken Heart”: Bennett reviews Powell

Saturday Review: “Idealist with the Big Broken Heart:” Barbara Bennett reviews Lionness by Mark Powell

It comes as no shock how strong a sense of place the Appalachians give to all who work, write, and create art there. Barbara Bennett remarks on this in her review of Mark Powell’s latest novel, Lionness: “Powell’s descriptions of place are quite lyrical. He obviously knows the landscape he gives us
in western North Carolina and southern Virginia. He has a way of taking the readers right to the spot and immersing us in the culture, landscape, and people.”

The story is about a couple, David and Mara, who lose their son. Not unlike many other stories of parents coming to grips with such a loss, the two cope in vastly different ways. Part of that is constructing differing stories about their beliefs and values as a couple. Bennett says, “It’s a long road to find out as David tries to reconstruct the past to figure out how he got where he is. But is it the truth?”

Climate change and ecoterrorism provide narrative movement to the novel. But at the core, Bennett says, “[Powell] attempts to remind us of the damage we all do just by living the selfish American lifestyle. It’s not an optimistic novel, more of a cautionary tale.” Here’s to wondering if his next novel, Hurricane Season, coming in October, provides any more answers.

Read the rest of the review in the Winter 23 Online issue out now and buy the book at