LA BELLE by Elizabeth Boatright Coker


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A bust and bustle period piece reconstructs the life of Marie Boozer from contemporary diaries, letters, newspaper notes, etc.- and if they do not provide as solid a story line as say Daughter of Strangers and The Day of the Peacock, there is still the heavy scent- and the deep drawl- of the old South. Marie Boozer, an unquestionable great beauty ""lacquered by legend"", had to contend not only with the reverses of the Civil War but also a calculating and conscienceless mother, Amelia. Amelia not only tried to put a stop to Marie's first love for Willie, a Confederate soldier, but also spied for the Yankees- so that she was in a favorable position when Sherman entered Columbia, South Carolina. Both women became campfollowers during the next months- Marie with her eye alert for any possible rendezvous with Willie who then repudiated her. Reaching New York, Marie was launched into high society, forced into marriage with old, rich Mr. Beecher who indulged and disgusted her; and then entered into a reckless scandal with one Lloyd Phoenix who found her too importunate and who tried to evade her as she followed him to Europe. Her last years remain open to conjecture much as her life had been open to censure..... All in all, the authentic frame exercises a certain, beneficial restraint for a writer prone to the temptations of the flesh.

Pub Date: July 27th, 1959
Publisher: Dutton