Old Dogs and Children

Robert Inman, Author Little Brown and Company $19.45 (447p) ISBN 978-0-316-41897-3
Looking back on her life, which she has spent in the small Southern town where first her lumberman father, then her congressman husband and now her son, the governor, have been the community's leading citizens, 68-year-old Bright Birdsong is bitter and disappointed. In the course of this leisurely, absorbing novel by the author of Home Fires Burning , Bright will first come to grips with her resentment that she has ``largely defined herself by her responsibilities'' and eventually admit that her own domineering qualities have had a large role in the development of her family and community relationships. Having chosen loyalty to her adored father over that to her husband--whom she refused to join in Washington, much to their children's emotional detriment--Bright has been a benefactor to the town. She has battled prejudice on behalf of the black community, and again does so when called upon by the son of the black woman who raised her. Other events conspiring to reengage Bright with life are the visit of her 10-year-old grandson, a $50,000 windfall, exposure of her son's philandering and a confrontation with her hostile daughter. Inman has a clear-eyed but compassionate understanding of the social fabric of the South and a feel for family dynamics. Although two sequences defy credibility--Bright's mother's vindictive reaction to a sexual episode, and the gratuitous inclusion of FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in the narrative--the novel is a nicely textured character study seen against a vividly realized setting. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Paperback - 456 pages - 978-0-316-41914-7
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