A Scrambling After Circumstance

Margaret-Love Denman, Author Viking Books $18.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-670-83534-8
With literary legerdemain, first novelist Denham wins readers' affection for her cranky, bedridden, demanding narrator Eula B., whose refrain, as she lives out her last days amid the plastic geraniums in her daughter's trailer, is that the old ways were better. That she's right only makes her harder to love; the reader's fondness for her is evidence of the author's prowess as she creates a seamless picture of a life in rural Mississippi that nearly spanned this century. Until two strokes forced her to move in with her daughter, Eula B. toiled--contentedly--at the one place that mattered to her--the dirt farm that had belonged to her mother's father. Those many years are gradually revealed as Eula B. recalls events of her earlier life with her much-loved Mama and Papa, and her brothers, admirable Ollie and angry Q.C., who ``seemed to bruise and scald everything he touched,'' according to her sister Mattie. No sentiment blurs Eula B.'s sharply focused last efforts to make sense of her first lovemaking, of her marriage to a ``reliable'' man, of her often troubled relationship with her daughter, the badly misnamed Toy. Unexceptional as her life may seem, its fullness of felt significance makes Eula B. a figure long to remember, perhaps to envy. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-14-015399-6
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