A KILLING FROST by Sylvia Wilkinson
Kirkus Star

A KILLING FROST

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Another distinguished work from the headlining group of young women writers,--Oates, Tyler and now Wilkinson--whose second novels, or works, have delivered what the first had promised. Miss Wilkinson's second novel is a spirited but in a way somber portrait of a Communion between generations, and the comprehension of loss and legacies. Ramie, a thirteen-year-old girl from rural North Carolina (orphaned by a wayward father's death in war, a mother's possible suicide; clipped and honed by a conscientious aunt into a private school and carefully conforming suburbia) lingeringly and adoringly witnesses the strengths and malignancies of the world of Miss Liz, her grandmother, widowed and still doggedly living on her farm-stead. In the life of Miss Liz, the mystery of the seasons, of dark swamps and small, tender creatures that demand care, was multiplied by the mysteries of human events...a grandson dies of a spider bite; a flighty daughter drowns; a Shining vagrant in Miss Liz's young life turns out to be dumb and ugly and is called ""Dummy""; a spider spells out a tombstone initial. Miss Liz could be shaken with hate--of the ugly ones like Dummy, the alien ones like Ramie's father--but she could love an orphan bird as she had cared for the orphan Ramie. For superstition grounded in the knowledge of the terrible forces of sea and earth is not a chimera but an anchor close to the familiar, the trusted. Miss Liz had foreseen the killing front--worse than a holocaust--and when her consciousness comes adrift, Ramie mourns for all the victims--her daddy, mother, Dummy and Miss Liz, who takes with herself a knowledge of eternals alien to the new American chromium society. Persistently lyrical, meaningful. Critical attention assured.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1967
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin