THE TRUEST PLEASURE

Returning to the familiar territory of his previous fiction, Morgan (the story collection The Mountains Won't Remember Us, 1992, etc.) offers a slice of turn-of-the-century southern farm life complete with all its joys and considerable monotonies. Ginny begins the narration of her life at its most pivotal momentwhen her widower father takes her to a revival meeting. To her own great surprise, she becomes possessed by the Spirit and finds herself speaking in tongues and thrashing about on the sawdust floor. From then on, Ginny's spirituality becomes the primary force in her life, bringing with it a sense of higher purpose. This confirmed holy roller, though, escapes a seemingly inevitable spinsterhood when she meets and marries Tom. But while there's an undeniable attraction, neither partner is deluded into thinking that the marriage is anything more than a great convenience. Tom, his family destitute since his father's death in the Civil War, falls in love with Ginny's vast acreage and sees in the land his opportunity to build something great and good. Ginny, in her practicality, sees in Tom a reliable helpmate for the hard rural life. They're compatible enough, then, and certainly so in the bedroom, but Ginny's religion is a point of contention that threatens the bond at every turn. Tom is violently repelled by his wife's participation in seasonal revival meetings, considers it the practice of heathens, and abandons the bedroom for months at a time when she refuses to curb her ways. Meanwhile, years pass amid the simple pleasures of trout fishing, making preserves, and boiling molassesall despite the setbacks of land disputes, fires, and a baby that dies during birth. Life simply goes on, however, until tragedy strikes and Ginny must decide what her ``truest pleasure'' is. An admirable account of country living, accentuated by colloquial prose, but best suited to those already enthralled by rural life.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1995

ISBN: 1-56512-105-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1995

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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