Being Polite to Hitler

Robb Forman Dew., Little, Brown, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-88950-6
National Book Award–winner Dew wraps up the trilogy she began with The Evidence Against Her by considering, in ways both joyful and elegiac, the juxtaposition of the profound and the mundane through the years 1953 to 1973 in smalltown Washburn, Ohio. Long-widowed schoolteacher Agnes Scofield, 54, reflects on her identity against the distant backdrop of polio scares, epic baseball games, nuclear threats, the space race, and civil rights strife, as everyday life in Washburn continues unabated. Prompted by a health scare and by passions and desires in her own and her children's lives, Agnes must decide whether to perpetuate convention or to choose the change swirling all around her, to embrace a "season of carelessness": what about that much younger suitor? Agnes is clearly a literary heir of Mrs. Ramsay, and the narrative, ranging freely not only among Agnes's sprawling family but also throughout her political and cultural milieu, owes a debt to Woolf. Particularly when read in conjunction with her other novels about Washburn, Dew's latest is an impressionistic portrait of a family and an age striving for clarity and understanding. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/18/2010
Release date: 01/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 978-0-316-12172-9
Paperback - 296 pages - 978-0-316-01875-3
Hardcover - 429 pages - 978-1-4104-3674-0
Open Ebook - 159 pages - 978-0-316-17285-1
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