GREAT DAY COMING by Hope Hale Davis


A Memoir of the 1930s
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 An outstanding memoir of young motherhood, love, political dedication, and madness in the 1930s. What Hettie Jones did for the New York bohemian scene of the 1960s, Davis (The Dark Way to the Plaza, 1968) has done for the leftist 1930s. Her tale begins in 1933, when her daughter Claudia is born in New York City. Her husband, British journalist Claud Cockburn, has already returned to Europe to cover the struggle against German and Spanish fascism for his insider bulletin, The Week, soon to become an indispensable source of war news for the English-speaking left worldwide. For a time Davis, herself a published writer and magazine promotion manager, hopes for their reunion; while waiting, she and Claudia go to stay with her sister in Virginia. There she gradually builds a life working for the Department of Agriculture and is introduced to Washington's intellectually dynamic liberal-left world. She falls in love with economist Hermann Brunck, and they move in together. Then they join the American Communist Party, and Davis's account of that experience is masterful; she captures the intrigue of underground culture and the seductive, even irresistible, logic of Communist solutions, as well as Party operatives' frightening refusal to see contradictions or hear dissent. Brunck has a sudden breakdown, described by Davis in intimate, painfully stirring detail--from his paranoid delusions (which came to seem increasingly sane with the unfolding of the intricate webs of conspiracy spun by the Party, government Red-baiting, and world politics) to their moments of sexual passion in the mental hospital. Her conversations with both Freudian doctors and Party comrades reveal intelligent people participating in terrifyingly rigid thought systems, yet she reduces no one to caricature. Davis's memoir of her struggle to think for herself while buffeted by love and ideology is an agonizingly human account of one of history's most tormented decades.

Pub Date: Nov. 21st, 1994
ISBN: 1-883642-17-5
Page count: 341pp
Publisher: Steerforth
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1994