Landscapes of the Heart: A Memoir

Elizabeth Spencer, Author
Elizabeth Spencer, Author Random House (NY) $24 (336p) ISBN 978-0-679-45739-8
Reviewed on: 12/01/1997
Release date: 12/01/1997
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-8071-4579-1
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-8071-4580-7
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 368 pages - 978-0-8071-4578-4
Paperback - 346 pages - 978-0-8071-2916-6
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Growing up in a snobbish, straitlaced, Mississippi town in the 1930s, novelist and story writer Spencer, who was born in 1921, rebelled against an old-fashioned Southern way of life that she mockingly calls ""as rigidly bounded as a high-security prison."" Her fiction, exploring such themes as racial equality, sex, love and expatriates' perilous inner journeys, widened the rift between her and her rigid, wealthy, controlling father. Her mother, a piano teacher, shared his strict Presbyterian outlook. This witty, charming memoir is most involving when Spencer recounts her outwardly idyllic girlhood, her break with her family and her peripatetic adventures. After working briefly as a reporter in Nashville and teaching literature at the University of Mississippi, she won a Guggenheim Fellowship that took her to Italy in 1953, where she met her future husband, an Englishman and a language instructor. They moved to Canada in 1958, but Spencer returned to her Southern roots with their relocation to North Carolina in 1986. She relates her friendships or encounters with the likes of Eudora Welty, Robert Penn Warren, John Cheever, Walker Percy, William Faulkner and others in her spirited tale of her evolution as a writer. Photos. (Feb.)
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