About this title:
"Miss Stafford writes with brilliance. Scene after scene is told with unforgettable care and tenuous entanglements are treated with wise subtlety. She creates a splendid sense of time, of the unending afternoons of youth, and of the actual color of noon and of night. Refinement of evil, denial of drama only make the underlying truth more terrible." --Saturday Review "Hard to match . . . for subtlety and understanding. . . written wittily, lucidly, and with great respect for the resources of the language. "--New Yorker Coming of age in pre-World War II California and Colorado brings tragedy to Molly and Ralph Fawcett in Jean Stafford's classic semi-autobiographical novel, first published in 1947. Torn between their mother's world of genteel respectability and their grandfather's and uncle's world of cowboy masculinity, neither Molly nor Ralph can find an acceptable adult role to aspire to. As events move to their swift and inevitable conclusion, Stafford uncovers and indicts the social forces that require boys to sacrifice the feminine in order to become men and doom intelligent girls who aren't pretty.
About the Author:
Jean Stafford (1915–1979) was born in Covina, California, the
youngest of four children. When she was five her father, an unsuccessful
writer of Westerns, lost the bulk of his inherited fortune on the
stock exchange. The impoverished family, forced to move, eventually
resettled in Boulder, Colorado. Stafford excelled as a student, earning
both a B.A. and an M.A. in four years on a scholarship at the University
of Colorado, but her college years were marked by poverty as well as
by the suicide of her friend Lucy McKee, who shot herself in Stafford’s
presence. A fellowship from the University of Heidelberg enabled
Stafford to study philology abroad following her graduation. Shortly
after her return she met the poet Robert Lowell, whom she married in
New York City in 1940. In 1944 she published her first book, Boston
Adventure, a best selling novel of manners, and her second and most
highly acclaimed novel, The Mountain Lion, followed in 1947—years
which also brought the collapse of her marriage to Lowell and a stay
in a psychiatric hospital. Stafford began to write short stories, and by
1948, the year in which she received a Guggenheim Fellowship, her
work was regularly appearing in The New Yorker. In 1952 Stafford
published a third novel, The Catherine Wheel, and in 1970 she was
awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her Collected Stories.
Stafford was married twice more—to Life editor Oliver Jensen and to
the writer A. J. Liebling—but lived out her last fifteen years alone.
She suffered a stroke in 1976 and died three years later in White
Plains, New York, leaving her entire estate to her cleaning woman.
Kathryn Davis is the author of many novels, including Labrador,
The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf, Hell, The Walking Tour, The Thin
Place, and Versailles. She is the recipient of Guggenheim Fellowship
and the 2006 Lannan Literary Award for Fiction. She teaches at
Washington University in St. Louis and lives in Vermont.
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