Sunset at Rosalie

Ann L. McLaughlin, Author John Daniel & Company Books $11.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-880284-15-5
""Uncle Will says we Southerners have to get educated so we can make the South new and . . ."" begins the precocious young girl at the center of this claustrophobic novel about her coming-of-age in pre-WW I rural Mississippi. Too often McLaughlin (Lightning in July) peeps from behind her young Carlin, to assure weary readers that the pace is bound to pick up or to remind doubters that the South was almost as racist and class-restricted in the early years of this century as it was in the first half of the last. Named for Shakespearean figures (Hamlet, Ophelia) and Greek philosophers (Plato), McLaughlin's characters appear more than respectably educated, but to no discernible end. They take note of the passing of their plantation lifestyle only to make sure that readers will notice as well, or so it seems. Carlin's affection for her depressed Uncle Will is just another of many blurred focuses here. Despite his Parisian education and his tries at architecture, her father's brother was a failure long before he married Carlin's widowed maternal aunt. That there's no one for Aunt Emily to marry outside this tiny world emphasizes its insularity, one with little extra room except for readers who enjoy exploring tight quarters. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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