Librarian's Review ~ by, Suzanne Moore
I was anxious to read this memoir after having read and loved the well-known book Under the Tuscan Sun by, Frances Mayes. Written with a flair for beautifully descriptive prose, the memories in this book go back to the author's early years, growing up in the south, reflecting a time of innocence, tradition, segregation, and discovery. Her sheltered and privileged life was tarnished by a father's explosive temper and abuse of alcohol by both parents. Willie Bell, the family's maid and her confidant, advises Frances to know when to bite her tongue... something she never forgot. Now able to look back and freely express her thoughts, she paints a picture of life in the 40s and 50s, controlled by parents, grandparents, and society as she enters her adult years. Behind the guise of a proper upbringing, her dysfunctional family life was something she struggled to overcome. An over-protective grandfather Daddy Jack, ruled the family with an iron fist after her father died of a lingering illness when she was a young girl, while her mother sank into depression as an early widow. I loved hearing about connections she made to literature, especially the D.H. Lawrence epitaph she wanted for her tombstone. The escapades she had in college despite the “1000 rules to live by” were adventurous and vividly recalled. My own memories go back as far as the early 60s, but as a much younger child then I didn't experience the significance of civil rights or invention of The Pill firsthand. Still I recognized some of the same curiosities growing up, such as summer camp and the first boy/girl kiss. The mention of food was not left out and several southern delicacies had my mouth watering. Highly recommended, this book will transport readers to a past time that now seems gentler despite all that was endured. ("I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.")
I am especially excited to hear that Frances Mayes will be speaking as a guest at ASU's Parkway Ballroom - Plemmons Student Union for An Appalachian Summer Festival. This is a FREE event and takes place at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 24, 2014.