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Doomed by fate, a widow of thirty-five and her childhood hero risk the gossip of their small-town Southern neighborhood by carrying on their love affair in some very unusual places
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In this moving and brilliant narrative of doomed love, Mary Lee Settle tells a triangular affair set in the small town of Canona, West Virginia. The novel's narrator, a thirty-five-year-old widow and writer, returns from a self-imposed European exile to find her hometown much as she left it decades ago. One thing does change upon her arrival, however; she takes Charley Bland, Canona's most eligible bachelor and the object of her schoolgirl crush, as her lover. The third person in the profane trinity is Charley's doting mother, a woman who believes no female worthy of her son. Mrs. Bland serves to fuel the creativity of the lovers as they arrange clandestine meetings. With trademark skill and wit, Settle spins a bittersweet story in which she reveals the mores of Canona's closed, upper-class society and of its less prosperous underculture. She artfully employs a mixture of humor, compassion, satire, and irony to perform a dissection of family existence at its most corrosive.From Publishers Weekly:
With its zinger of an opening sentence: "It seemed that when I was growing up, all the wild roads led to Charley Bland," Settle sweeps into her seductive story, a memento of a lost love and a genteelly devouring way of life. In 1960, widowed and a fledgling author, the 35-year-old narrator returns home to West Virginia, where she becomes the newest conquest of the town rake and alcoholic, irresistible Charley Bland. Both are prodigals and sinners: she in having fled the South to live the bohemian life in Paris, Charley thoroughly in thrall to his ruthless, implacably selfish mother: "She used charm like a blunt instrument." The passionate summer romance cools to a secret relationship that endures for seven years. Finally, the narrator feels she has received "permission to leave" from those who have known from the beginning that Charley will never marry her. A familiar story, perhaps, but Settle recounts it in beautifully cadenced, lyrical prose, her elegiac tone perfectly sustained, her ironic insights stinging with her special understanding of how Southern codes of conduct, especially the ironclad traditions of family relationships, foreordain the tragic waste of lives. Settle, whose Beulah Quintet has few peers in its depiction of Southern character, makes this bittersweet love story resonant with the truths of life.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1989. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0374120781
Book Description Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1989. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110374120781
Book Description Farrar Straus & Giroux (T), 1989. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0374120781