by Helen Hooven Santmyer ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 23, 1987
A reprint of a 1929 novel by the late author of. . .And Ladies of the Club (1984)--the compelling mammoth that spanned over seven decades of America's past as lived through by a group of Ohio families whose small-town lives reflected the country's solidifying prosperity and character. This relatively brief novel again reflects deeply channeled ethos and stability in the early decades of the century--here in a domestic melodrama in Santmyer's town of Xenia, Ohio. The neighbor children of Xenia were awed by ""the solitude, the silence and the strangeness"" of the great tree-shrouded house of Margaret Baird, where beyond the forbidding iron gates they could see a child playing alone. Lonely Lucy Anne, Margaret's granddaughter, not allowed contact with the town's ""rag-tag and bobtail,"" and above all not with any music--no singing or touching the piano--is the cherished possession of Margaret, via default by Lucy Anne's mother Hilary, the widow of an Italian musician. Margaret had refused to give Hilary money to visit her dying husband Paolo in spite of the telegram: ""dying peritonitis please come clear Hilary."" A proud woman of ""scornful strength,"" Hilary is not one for mothering, but Lucy Anne happily plays with imaginary friends in the warmth of grandmother's love--the same grandmother who specifies in her will that Lucy Anne will not be raised by Hilary (""queer as Dick's hat band""--after all, she married not only an Italian but a musician!) but rather by Uncle Tom and family (there's a clangorous visit in a nearby city). A friendship with a bachelor doctor, an admirer of Hilary, offers a promise of normalcy, but through the death of Margaret--a mystic affair with a visitation from a ghost--Lucy Anne and Hilary (and, in spirit, a dead father) are brought together, and both learn that a love remembered can never die. Although the characters are die cut and a bit cuckoo in their obsessions, the Baird house and environs--as well as the tang of vanishing backroads diction--are richly, nostalgically appealing.
Pub Date: Nov. 23, 1987
Page Count: -
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1987
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