My Home Is Far Away: An Autobiographical Novel

Dawn Powell, Author, Tim Page, Foreword by
Dawn Powell, Author, Tim Page, Foreword by Zoland Books $14.95 (319p) ISBN 978-1-883642-43-3
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-58019-0
Paperback - 319 pages - 978-1-58195-209-4
Open Ebook - 183 pages - 978-1-58195-245-2
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Originally published in 1944, this reissue of Powell's fictionalized memoir of her Ohio girlhood lacks the hijinks, wit and clever plotting readers expect from her satirical New York novels like Angels on Toast. Yet the patient reader will find other rewards: a strong sense of place, time, character and language that carry the story along. This is the world of Marcia Willard, a little girl who is so bright that she can memorize her older sister's homework in a glance, but who is still often puzzled by the people and goings-on around her. Her father is a charming, unreliable traveling salesman who sings to his wife, buys a gramophone, but often fails to leave enough money to support his three daughters. As the family weathers tragedy, Marcia comes to feel that ``either people spoiled your plans because they were downright mean or because they `meant it for the best'... you couldn't trust anybody.'' The deepening sadness of the story is tempered by Powell's fascinating evocation of the details--charming and not so--of turn-of-the-century Ohio life: buggy rides, consumption, a slop jar with a pink crocheted lid, a parlor boasting ``the works of Mrs. E.D.E.N. Southwarth,'' homemade sea foam candy. Powell's manipulation of time and perception is also canny: just as Marcia is often surprised by the vicissitudes of life, so is the reader rarely aware of what will happen next. If sometimes grim and slow-moving, Powell's story has created very real characters in a vanished world. (Nov.)
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