A Proper Woman

Lillian Beckwith, Author St. Martin's Press $13.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-312-00672-3
Told with simplicity and compassion, this brief tale set in the Hebrides early in the 20th century portrays persevering Anna Matheson, who, like Jane Eyre, bravely endures much gratuitous cruelty without allowing it to obliterate her innate kindliness. As a child, Anna lives with her mother, father and younger brother, Mata, on their croft, where she uncomplainingly accepts a routine of hard physical labor in a repressive domestic atmosphere. After the elder Mathesons die, Mata brings home his bride, a callous, vain city girl named Jeannie. Indifferent to Anna's love for the croft, Mata and Jeannie sell the farm before moving away, leaving Anna nearly destitute, homeless and without employment. In desperation, she marries ""Black'' Fergus McFee, a dissolute man renowned for brutality. Anna forces herself to tolerate his abusive ways for years; then, as in a fairy tale, she finds marital contentment with another man after Fergus's accidental death. Even its contrived conclusion doesn't mar the novel's absorbing vividness, a quality especially evident in the descriptions of unspoiled, perennially beautiful terrain, Fergus's barbarity and Anna's will to survive. Beckwith wrote A Shine of Rainbows. (September 2)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1987
Release date: 06/01/1987
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