THORPE by Mary Dutton


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Thorpe is a little girl in Arkansas, the first-person narrator of this surprisingly good novel. Surprising, because it follows some well-travelled themes: innocence confronting evil in the form of Southern race relations, bloody, callous or paternalistic as they were in the '30's--and in Thorpe's case, sad, as she finds out from her soft but hidebound mother that she simply can't be friends with the Negro washerwoman's children any more. The novel abounds in negative virtues:little editorializing, less dialect, no gothic overlay. Comparisons with To Kill a Mockingbird, etc., would be otiose, because the book's strength stems from its authenticity as a personal record, transcribed with active but well-controlled sensibility. The characters (except the father, an educated, idealistic martyr) are fleshed out beyond the class of stock Southern folk: the fast aunt and the mean one, the preacher and his ex-carnival wife, the Klansmen, the crazy old woman, the thirteen-year-old Negro pregnant by a sadistic white man, come across very well...and so should the novel, for any reader who happens across it.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1967
Publisher: World