Fowler (Sugar Cage, 1992) returns to the wilds of Florida in her second novel, using cleverly alternating viewpoints (evident at many section breaks) to weave the lives of three generations of women into a tender and wistful story. Sadie is a middle-aged woman who lives on the small boat that she inherited upon her mother and grandmother's deaths when she was nine years old. Her life has little direction; between tumultuous visits from her passionate Cuban lover, Carlos, she leads wealthy tourists on boating expeditions in the Florida Keys, taking advantage of their captive ears to recount the family tales once told to her by her mulatto mother and her Native American grandmother. After a bumpy start, Fowler settles into a comfortable rhythm that switches back and forth between the story of Sadie's vacillating relationship with Carlos and the stories of Sadie's forebears: tales about her grandmother Mima being kidnapped from the Oklahoma plains; about the illicit affair between Mima and Sadie's grandfather, Mr. Sammy; and about the angry silence between her mother and grandmother that ended only when her grandmother embraced her heritage. Sadie worries that her stories, rooted in imagination and mysticism as much as in memory, are tied only tenuously to reality. Where, she wonders, does history end and fabrication begin? The mummified body of a child that Sadie and Carlos find in the water after a storm prompts them to take action; the two navigate the winding rivers to St. Augustine in search of a suitable place to bury the child's body, and of a way to reconcile Sadie's future with her past. Though Sadie is unaccountably cranky, when she spins a yarn she weaves magic. And while she occasionally leaves little to a reader's own imagination, Fowler's lyrical writing and vivid, poignant portraits surmount her overstatements in this memorable book.

Pub Date: April 13th, 1994
ISBN: 0-399-13912-5
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1994


FictionTHE PROBLEM WITH MURMUR LEE by Connie May Fowler
by Connie May Fowler
NonfictionWHEN KATIE WAKES by Connie May Fowler
by Connie May Fowler
FictionREMEMBERING BLUE by Connie May Fowler
by Connie May Fowler
FictionBEFORE WOMEN HAD WINGS by Connie May Fowler
by Connie May Fowler