Books by Magnolia Wynn Le Guin

An early 20th-century woman faithfully reports on her "overtaxed" life, bearing and bringing up eight children in rural Georgia. "I find my sweetest pleasure and only pastime in reading and writing," confesses Le Guin (grandmother-in-law of writer Ursula K. Le Guin). She began her diaries in 1901, when she was 32, married to a cotton farmer, the mother of three boys under five, and already a self-described "home-concealed woman." (Throughout her life, she never went more than 30 miles from Wynn's Mill.) In blunt Georgian dialect, Le Guin's entries convey the struggle to cope along with poor health, "the dreadful inexpressible suffering" of childbirth, teething, whooping cough, houseguests, and dying parents. "I am so tired, so tired," she says, "but must go on and cook supper and churn, wash dishes, cook pumpkin and go to bed." The heritage of the post-Civil War South echoes in frequent prayers to the "Heavenly Father" and complaints about black servants ("the impudence from darkies"). Extraodrinary here is Le Guin's commitment to writing, as well as the way she freely states her clashing emotions—desperation, love, anger, or the guilt over slapping a child once when "so anxious to write." Necessarily repetitive, documentary material on the shackles of domestic life in the agrarian South. The text includes a useful introduction by Charles Le Guin, the author's grandson (Portland State/History); a foreword by Ursula K. Le Guin; recipes and remedies (such as an onion poultice for croup); and eight illustrations, not seen. Read full book review >