A thoroughly engaging encore by the author of Home Fires Burning (1986)--featuring the adventures of Bright Birdsong and her family of small-town southern politicians. Bright Birdsong still lives in the town where she was born, and has lived to witness and partake in most of its transformations over the years. The daughter of a frail New Orleans belle and a successful lumberyard owner who became town mayor, sturdy, practical-minded Bright learned about life from Hosanna, the family maid (who introduced her to gospel singing and a world of superstition) and Hosanna's son, Flavo, with whom she would spend a lifetime tussling over issues of race and discrimination. Having grown up to become the daughter, wife, mother and eventually the widow of southern politicians, Bright maintains a complex inner life beneath a perfectly ordinary facade--a life that is revealed through lengthy flashbacks as she weathers the destructiveness of her parents' relationship, the suicide of her father, and the increasing racial tension inspired by a burgeoning civil-rights movement. In the end, the aging widow, who wishes only for peace and quiet, is called upon to save her hometown from racial violence once again. She does so in her own spontaneous, eccentric, and somewhat grumpy way--and then settles down for what she hopes (but somehow doubts) will be a long and well-deserved retirement. Gentle, intelligent southern storytelling at its best.