cover image Any Given Day: The Life and Times of Jessie Lee Brown Foveaux

Any Given Day: The Life and Times of Jessie Lee Brown Foveaux

Jessie Foveaux. Warner Books, $19.45 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-446-52343-1

At age 98, Foveaux became a celebrity when her creative-writing teacher in her hometown of Manhattan, Kans., sent her memoir--which had been circulating among family and friends for 20 years--to the Wall Street Journal. The resulting feature story led to a $1 million book contract for her. And although her autobiography doesn't have the savvy or delightful sassiness of, say, the Delaney sisters, and there are many boring pages, it is imbued with Foveaux's rectitude and integrity. Her recollections of her childhood are idyllic Americana, redolent of the era of the surrey with a fringe on top, box suppers at the schoolhouse, daddies who were, as she puts it, ""steady and strong,"" mothers, prim in jabots, tatting lacework. There wasn't much money, but nobody went hungry either. Foveaux's adult years, however, were marked with misery and courage. When her fiance was killed in WWI, she drifted into marriage with Bill Foveaux in 1919, who, after fathering six kids in seven years, became an alcoholic. ""How I hate him!"" she writes. ""This man has ruined my life."" Ultimately, she got a divorce, worked at whatever jobs were available, from selling cosmetics door-to-door to operating a mangle at a laundry. And there the drama ends, followed by countless tedious pages given over to individual messages to Foveaux's grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Though some readers may enjoy the opportunity to ""set for a spell"" with the author, many will question her publisher's decision not to edit the book. Photos. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club featured alternates; TV option to Hallmark for a miniseries; available as a Time Warner AudioBook. (Nov).