WHISTLE DOWN A DARK LANE by Adrienne Jones

WHISTLE DOWN A DARK LANE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Like The Beckoners (1980), this memory of a 1920s Atlanta childhood is rich in ambiance but just too Weighty and wordy for its limited depth and impact. Jones frequently creates an evocative scene, then milks it dry for intimations of profundity. At the center of the memory is the narrator's prim but plucky mother, who must learn during the novel's course to cope for herself and her two ""chicks"" (narrator Margery, six when this opens, and her sister Blainey, eight) after her husband leaves. ""Get ready for some changes,"" a jaunty suffragette in a parade shouts straight to Margery in the first chapter, and Jones reminds us of this prophecy over and over as the three females are left to make their way (with, however, a reasonable monthly support payment). Jones has the two little girls overhear conversations which they don't understand, but which explain to readers why the father will leave: His wife, now in her forties and determined not to have another child, insists on keeping separate bedrooms. There is much yearning love for her father on Margery's part and much loving support and upright direction from her mother, who maintains a chipper front through a summer in the mountains without father--and an icy mein toward a crude neighbor who's a Grand Dragon in the Ku Klux Klan. They will meet him again on their return to Atlanta at summer's end, when Mother hides their black servant's uncle in their car and hooded pursuing klansmen prod roughly for the errant ""nigger."" Jones successfully whips up tension here and wrings heightened vibrations from less dramatic episodes, and she informs the whole with a voluptuous nostalgia some will find seductive.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Harper & Row