MIAMI by Evelyn Wilde Mayerson


A Saga
Age Range: 1886 - 1992
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 The author of Well and Truly (1990) and other genially predictable, surprisingly touching human dramas--often with humorous garnish--dedicates this century-spanning (1886-1992) Miami saga to James Michener, ``who encouraged me to try a broad canvas.'' But while Mayerson, always an attractive storyteller, easily achieves readability, her forte--the tensing out of human frailties and eccentricities--is shoved aside here in the necessary corralling of gobs of historical material dealing with the evolution of Miami, the struggles of blacks and Native Americans, and three exponentially increasing families. In 1886, raw-boned, faded Eulalie--gently reared but married to coarse cracker Coombs, father of her son Jack--bears a daughter, Maude, by handsome Thomas Sands, a piratical sort who is soon handily murdered. Sands was also the lover of black Bahamian laundress Caroline and sired Bristol. Bristol will be forced to flee from white soldiers and is sent to the Everglades to live with a family of Seminoles, the tribe of Sally Cypress, Eulalie's only friend. Throughout the wrenching changes to come--persecution and humiliation of Seminoles and blacks as whites move in; real-estate booms and busts; the arrival of Cubans; the shrinking of pinelands, swamps, and rivers--the descendants of Eulalie, Caroline, and Sally Cypress weave in and out of each other's lives and cope (or don't) with the events of the times. Among the personae: business impresarios, a nightclub singer who has an affair with Castro (``he never stopped talking''), a Twenties flapper who takes dance lessons at age 90, a Sixties hippie, etc. etc. It ends with the great-great grandchild of Eulalie's, waiting out the 1992 hurricane in the ancestral house. Several voices tell the story of a parade of victims and victorious survivors. A certainly competent saga, with (thank goodness) a genealogical table appended.

Pub Date: March 10th, 1994
ISBN: 0-525-93646-7
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1994