True Women

Janice Woods Windle, Author Putnam Publishing Group $22.95 (451p) ISBN 978-0-399-13813-3
Filled with tales of the strength and bravery of Texas women, this uneven first novel, a fictionalization of the author's family history, moves from 1831 to 1946. Featuring well-known historical figures as well as members of the King and Woods clans, it is a sort of Gone with the Wind , Texas-style. Windle's pastiche of imaginative language (a community is made of ``clapboard and promise'') and cliche (``hair black as night'') is generally appealing. Her story, while sometimes stilted, has many gripping moments. Euphemia Texas Ashby survives Indian attacks and a flight from the Mexican General Santa Anna, marries William King and wrestles with issues of slavery and women's rights. The victim of prejudice because she's rumored to be part Creek Indian, Georgia Lawshe marries gentle physician Peter Woods. During the Civil War, Georgia is forced to kill a vicious Yankee soldier in her house. In the next generation, another doughty heroine, Bettie Moss, marries William's son Henry King and copes with five siblings and a daughter, the Great Depression and the rise of the Klan in Texas. Each succeeding section of this saga is a bit weaker in force and style, as the author's depiction of her kin gets closer to the present day. Characterization sometimes falls victim to the infusion of dry historial data--yet some events--WW I and the influenza epidemic, for example--are quickly dispatched. Slavery is handled in both admirable and saccharine fashion, but interracial marriage and love affairs are depicted refreshingly. In sum, this Texas-sized read is an unusual, intriguing blend of historical novel and family memoir. 150,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club super-release. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/1994
Release date: 00/00/0000
Mass Market Paperbound - 432 pages - 978-0-8041-1308-3
Hardcover - 464 pages - 978-1-56352-636-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-55994-953-8
Hardcover - 635 pages - 978-0-8161-7425-6
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