Time's Tapestry: Four Generations of a New Orleans Family

Leta Weiss Marks, Author
Leta Weiss Marks, Author Louisiana State University Press $29.95 (200p) ISBN 978-0-8071-2205-1
Reviewed on: 12/01/1997
Release date: 12/01/1997
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Her 95-year-old mother's weakening health aroused in Marks ""an urgent need to hear the record of all that I did not know about my mother... I hungered to learn the story of her life."" Weaving together passages from family letters, interviews, archival research and a blend of her own recollections and imaginative re-creation, she has produced an impressionistic portrait of four generations of a Jewish family in New Orleans. Her mother, Caroline Dreyfous, was descended from French immigrant Abel Dreyfous, who prospered as a lawyer. Overcoming family objections, Caroline married Leon Weiss, an ambitious architect 17 years her senior, who was chosen by Louisiana governor Huey Long to design the new state capitol. His association with Long implicated him (unfairly, Weiss claimed) in the Louisiana corruption scandals, and he served two years in federal prison. Despite his ""incarceration"" (the words jail and prison were not mentioned at home), his wife chose never to discuss the case with her children. Although hampered by her mother's reticence, Marks is finally unable to wholly penetrate the mystery of her mother's life. She dwells nostalgically on her own privileged childhood, the well-remembered landscape of her native city, and fleshes out her memoir with brief sketches of other family members. Her narrative, though somewhat disjointed, does convey with warmth and feeling the flavor of a bygone era. 25 halftones not seen by PW. (Dec.)
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