THE SANCTUARY TREE by Norms Johnston


Email this review


Sweetheart Ken Lathan moves to Pennsylvania; Gramps dies and the contents of his farmhouse are sold at auction; father's cataract operation forces her to resign from the Browning Society play; depression and fear of criticism cause her to abandon her writing: for Tish Sterling her fifteenth year is a season of loneliness, disappointment, and burdensome family responsibilities. But Johnston, in this sequel to The Keeping Days (1973), is once again comfortably at home--both with the ""prunes and prisms"" 1901 milieu, where Sunday night socials at the Parish House are the stuff of gossip and with the bustle and ferment of an old-fashioned extended kinship. Tish is perhaps one of the more self-centered heroines around, yet her battle to preserve both privacy and ego in the face of the expectations that go with her role as eldest daughter at home is all the more empathic because Johnston never defines it in purely feminist terms. Tish passes up a chance to play Nora in A Doll's House in order to keep house herself, and it is a bible-quoting anonymous correspondent--and, surprisingly, sister Bronwen's ""jughead"" stepson, Junius--who help Tish snap out of her melancholy. An ingenuous turn of circumstances, but one that Tish carries off with her usual panache.

Pub Date: March 9th, 1977
Publisher: Atheneum