"SILK HOPE, NC" by Lawrence Naumoff


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Naumoff is an interesting combination: a progressive champion of women's rights and a conservative wedded to the land and fearful of development. In his appealing fourth novel about two sisters, he affirms the values of a matriarchal family. In an earlier century, in North Carolina, a woman was tricked into leaving her husband for another man, only to reap humiliation and disgrace. Her daughter built a farmhouse with her own money and stipulated that only the women in the family could inherit the property. Its contemporary owners are Natalie and Frannie, sisters in their 20s. Their father split when they were children; their mother has just died. The sisters love each other, though they are temperamental opposites. Older sister Natalie is level-headed, with a steady if priggish boyfriend (Jake) whom she loves dearly. Frannie is wild and lost, a party girl so busy bed-hopping that she missed her mother's funeral, a lapse that now shames her. She was her father's confidante and has never recovered from his disappearance. The last straw comes when Jake, who understands money, urges the sale of the farmhouse, and Natalie backs him up. Frannie resists furiously; this is her sanctuary. She regroups, taking a job at the mill where Natalie works and staying home nights. The excitement in Naumoff's story comes from watching his endearing heroine, a funny-sad clown, fighting for the farmhouse (and her life) and slowly turning the tide. Considerably better than the over-emphatic Taller Women (1992). Now a wittier moralist with a stronger story, Naumoff has his one unreconstructed chauvinist pig bested by a real pig, Frannie's pet sow, while keeping the spotlight on Frannie's moving transformation from a waif into a woman.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0156002078
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Harcourt Brace