Kirkus Star


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Ann Hebson is a natural storyteller, and this second novel (A Fine and Private Place- 1958) has won the Macmillan annual Fiction Award. It is an unusual book, set in two dimensions of time: the post-Korean War where the central characters, Tom Lattimer and his wife Cora, are on the edge of the dissolution of their marriage; and the Civil War on the West Virginia border, where the principal figure is Kate who, according to Tom's grandfather, ""deserted"" her home and the memory of the husband lost at Gettysburg to go off with one of Morgan's men. Kate's story is, however, the dominant theme and Kate the dominant figure, with a strange fascination for the reader as well as for Tom who discovered her diaries, and for Dr. Carter from Kentucky who knew her as his grandmother. She had become a legendary figure; she was sharply criticized by her neighbors; she attracted many men who left her tortured by conscience- and shame, strengthened by the disapproval of her mother-in-law and her husband. Her story is told against the background of West Virginia's duality and conflict of loyalties. The Lattimores were Confederate in their sympathies in the center of violently Union sentiments. The war brings raiders of both sides to their doorsteps- while the news from the various battles sifts in, bringing uncertainty and tragedy. It is a fascinating chronicle.

Pub Date: Nov. 13th, 1961
Publisher: Macmillan