Dear Family

Camilla Bittle, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (232p) ISBN 978-0-312-05847-0
Set between 1936 and the WW II years in a small Massachusetts farm town, this warmhearted novel celebrates the old-fashioned virtues of home and family. Dorothy and Ed Beane, plain good folk, share a comfortable Holyoke house with children Ruthie and Virgil and querulous, aging Granny Beane. His hopes of college having been dashed by the Depression, Ed has become a machinist; when he loses his job, they accept the offer of Dorothy's proudly correct mother to live under her roof. Ed labors to restore the dilapidated farm, but the adjustment is severe (``It was hard to feel beholden''). Furthermore, Dorothy's inhibitions in her mother's house threaten the couple's sex life, and Ed feels the lure of Vera, a spinster cousin, and increasingly cheers himself with a whiskey bottle hidden in the barn. Money anxieties--the need to ask Dorothy's mother for every dollar--further imperil the Beanes' equilibrium. Ed becomes a live-in chauffeur for a former bootlegger in a distant town, enforcing a separation. The war intrudes: Virgil goes overseas, and Ruthie marries her soldier fiance far from home. Despite the measure of grief, the family makes hard but satisfying choices. Bittle, who evokes an intimate sense of homespun joys, has written for Good Housekeeping and Family Circle. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Hardcover - 389 pages - 978-1-56054-294-0
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