Books by Ann L. McLaughlin

THE HOUSE ON Q STREET by Ann L. McLaughlin
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

"Nostalgia and cultural narcissism with a mostly painted-by-numbers feel."
Simplistic and memoir-like historical about two girls coming of age as their scientist father works to help make WWII come out all right. Read full book review >
SUNSET AT ROSALIE by Ann L. McLaughlin
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 15, 1996

Luminous evocations of the last days of Rosalie, a Mississippi plantation brought down by the collapse of ``King Cotton'' in the early 1900s as observed by a young girl on the cusp of womanhood. McLaughlin (The Balancing Pole, 1991, etc.) begins the story in the summer of 1909 on the eve of Uncle Will's marriage to widowed Aunt Emily, and though many incidents accumulate in the course of the novel, the mood is always more important than the action. Ten-year-old Carlin McNair, precociously intelligent, is looking forward to the wedding. Will is her favorite uncle, and Aunt Emily is her mother's dearest sister and the mother of Carlin's playmates. But all may not be well: When her father returns home on the day of the wedding without the bridegroom-to- be, Carlin hears her mother ask whether Will's ``old trouble'' has kept him from coming. The marriage does take place, and Uncle Will and Aunt Emily set off for Paris, the city where Will, an architect, had spent his happiest years. Will, Carlin soon learns, suffers from depression, probably manic, for he veers from dark despair to wild enthusiasm. As his interests become more extreme- -one moment he's obsessed with agricultural theories, the next he's running for Congress—Carlin's family begins a decline that will eventually see them forced to abandon Rosalie and move to town. Carlin is aware of her parents' increased economies. She hears the talk of poor harvests and low prices and has seen the boll-weevil's devastation; but she doesn't appreciate the implications for her family until it's clear that what had seemed timeless—the family's servants, customs, and possessions—will be no more. Meanwhile, the pleasures of childhood—gifts, horseback rides, a stimulating teacher, loving parents—soften some of the blows, including a near-fatal illness and Uncle Will's disintegration. A clear-eyed, loving but never sentimental look at the Old South as it tries to adjust to a new order. Read full book review >
THE BALANCING POLE by Ann L. McLaughlin
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 15, 1991

An honest (if programmatic) case study—half love story, half inspirational—of a woman's descent into manic-depression and her family's attempt to cope with her illness. McLaughlin alternates point-of-view between Margo (a mother, wife and artist living in Berkeley who feels that ``something within me had slipped down out of place''), husband Terry (an art historian who teaches and who writes for a magazine of art criticism), children Mikey and Laura, sitter Nancy, and Margo's sister Liz. Margo's sickness blankets them all; she ``can't seem to get myself organized'' and sees an analyst. But therapy doesn't work, medication doesn't work, and finally Margo—institutionalized and delusional—learns that her own mother committed suicide. That insight provides the key to her eventual ascent into sanity and domestic equilibrium. Meanwhile, the pattern of escalation and eventual (though tentative) cure is fleshed out with a good deal of ordinary detail: Margo trying to keep it together long enough to paint portraits; Terry discovering that his charismatic magazine publisher is a plagiarist; sister-in-law Liz having an affair with the same publisher; Margo's father, a hearty, superficial man, occasionally making an appearance and serving as the deus ex machina at the end with the revelation about his wife's death; Terry getting a shot at a tenure-track position; and Margo, returning home after her descent, getting a new dog to replace the one killed in an accident. As for the writing, it's mostly workmanlike but can be very sloppy: ``...a question that had been burning inside me spurted from my mouth.'' Despite its literary flourishes, this one's more valuable as case history than as fiction. Read full book review >