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Sunday Scoop

Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir

By Frances Mayes


This is a brand new novel! So brand new that it isn’t out yet. LOL. It will be released in April of 2014, by Crown Publishers. This is a memoir of Frances Mayes. She is an author who grew up in the south. Frances has written several books about Tuscany. I received this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer’s Giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

From her years as a spirited, secretive child, through her university studies—a
period of exquisite freedom that imbued her with a profound appreciation of
friendship and a love of travel—to her escape to a new life in California, Mayes
recreates her world of intense relationships and her passionate connection with
the land she sprang from.

Using the precise sense memories that define
her previous memoirs, Mayes writes an unforgettable story of a girl whose
perspicacity and dawning self-knowledge lead her out of the South, and into the
rest of the world. Under Magnolia, too, chronicles a present-tense,
surprising rediscovery of the changed yet still achingly familiar and beloved
South. This is a searingly honest, humorous, and moving ode to family and place,
and a thoughtful meditation on the ways they define us, or cause us to define
ourselves (from Amazon).

This book is a look at France’s background growing up and the events of the past that have made her what she is today. The triumphs and difficulties of her life growing up with an ill father and a mother who is wracked with depression and alcoholism. These are the things that Frances must overcome to be successful in her own right. Frances was born in Fitzgerald, Georgia. We learn of her mother’s role in society and society’s expectations in the south. Frances is allies with the hired help, Willie Bell. She is a black woman whose presence they justify by saying that they pay their help more than anyone else in town. We are shown the reluctance of the south to treat the blacks as equals. Frances must go to an acceptable college. It has to be one her grandfather approves of since he is paying for it. While Frances is in college there is the introduction of the birth control pill and this changes women’s lives.

I found this to be an enjoyable read. Frances was quite a socialite and led a busy life. The book does jump around a little bit in time, but was not hard to follow. When you read this you feel like you are experiencing things for the first time right along with Frances. It is like you are there with her. There are many southern expressions and sayings, most of the time they are understandable, but I think that there were a couple that I didn’t get early on in the book. This book captures a timeless piece of the south. Keep this one in mind and keep an eye out for it!! I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.




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