Beulah

Augusta J. Evans, Author Louisiana State University Press $55 (420p) ISBN 978-0-8071-1749-1
Beulah Benton, the protagonist of this reissued novel of the antebellum South, is plucky, feminist, intellectual--but given to convoluted philosophical musings and, ultimately, acquiescent to women's traditional roles. In the formal, sometimes overwrought language of the period, Evans takes the orphaned Beulah from her trouble-ridden childhood through her stormy young womanhood. Despite the many poignant events--including the death of Beulah's young sister and the social ostracism she faces as an orphan--Evans's energetic and direct style achieves sincerity of feeling more often than melodrama. Beulah's lot begins to improve when Guy Hartwell, the doctor who tends her in a serious illness, becomes her guardian. Although she vows to remain unmarried and earn her living as an author and teacher, Beulah ultimately realizes what the reader has known for some time--that Guy is in love with her and she with him. Her transition from independent female to little woman is strained and abrupt, yet, for its time, the novel is remarkable for the seriousness with which it takes women's intellectual pursuits and the dignity it gives to the single life. Fox-Genovese wrote Within the Plantation Household. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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