The True and Authentic History of Jenny Dorset ...

Philip Lee Williams, Author Longstreet Press $24.95 (494p) ISBN 978-1-56352-365-6
Williams's seven previous novels (All the Western Stars; Blue Crystal, etc.) run such a varietal gamut that his foray into 18th-century literature with this brassy parody of Fielding's classic Tom Jones should be no surprise. Though flagrantly overwritten by contemporary standards, this raucous burlesque is great fun. Unabashedly modeled after Fielding's masterpiece (including the lengthy, descriptive chapter headings), this chronicle concerns the antic life of Jenny, willful daughter of Adam Dorset, a wealthy, ineptly foppish, Charleston, S.C., planter. Henry Hawthorne, a beloved, quiet-spoken (but dry-witted) manservant in the Dorset household, is the narrator. Born during the troublesome skirmishes between the French and Indians and coming to the flower of her womanhood during the British occupation of Charleston (1780-1782), sensual, hedonistic Jenny is undaunted by man or beast. Central to the narrative is Jenny's hard-drinking, wenching father's petty rivalries with Charles Smythe, his snobby (however self-made) Virginia-born neighbor. Capturing a vivid image of the bustling, historic seaport before and during the British occupation, this sweeping saga weaves a tapestry of the Colonial South. It's graced with bawdy hilarity and its characters' frequent contretemps. The antithesis of the postmodern novel, the old-fashioned narrative packs plenty of adventure and romance in its sprawling pages. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1997
Release date: 04/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-0-8203-2334-3
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