cover image The Upper Room

The Upper Room

Mary Monroe, Author, Monroe Mary, Author Kensington Publishing Corporation $24 (352p) ISBN 978-1-57566-910-6

Originally published in 1985, Mary Monroe's engaging debut novel, The Upper Room, features Ruby Montgomery, an obese, indomitable character who steals her best friend's baby daughter and flees to rural Florida, where she establishes herself as an almost mythical figure. The dialogue and setting are reminiscent of Zora Neale Hurston, but the story has a bizarre, violent edge la Stephen King. Fantastic and exaggerated, the novel may seem dated in its descriptions of race and sex, but it is a candid portrayal of the cold-blooded yet fascinating Mama Ruby.