Private Parts

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9781563520211: Private Parts

Mattie Turner, a young woman living in Red Hill, South Carolina, narrates her growing dissatisfaction with her life and her loveless marriage, until her passive acceptance of life is transformed into the need to break out of her stifling existence

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From Kirkus Reviews:

The achievement in Godwin's first novel lies in the appealing voice of her main character Mattie, who rambles through 20-plus years of her life in a small southern town--from brief courtship through long marriage and eventual separation. Married on impulse as a teenager to Jimmy Lee Turner, Mattie never quite understands why. She feels slighted by her in-laws and abandoned by her mother, who remarries and moves away shortly after Mattie's father dies. (It'll be 20 years before they see each other again.) Mattie's fantasy of a married life with a house full of babies evaporates when she miscarries her first pregnancy and learns she will never have another. She carries on, however, seemingly nonplussed. She's the good wife, even though she's never been thrilled by Jimmy Lee's lovemaking; the good daughter in-law; the good neighbor. Eventually Mattie has a hysterectomy; her in- laws die; she reunites with her mother; then hurricane Dion destroys her mother-in-law's home. This last incident seems to be the catalyst for her separation from Jimmy Lee, though by this point we're not sure why. Mattie's voice is a rather isolated one, her story curiously passive. Unfortunately, the novel suffers from the obvious pitfall of first-person narration: the canvas never opens up. Ultimately, it cries out for dramatic incident to give Mattie a real life. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Mattie is only 17 when she marries Jimmie Lee, youngest son of the Turners, who own the premier department store in tiny Red Hill, S.C. At first Mattie tries to adhere to traditional wifely precepts ("A woman's main job in this world is to take what's on her plate and make it taste good," her mother has said), to win over her mother-in-law and to master the complexities of Red Hill society. In chapters that are alternately introspective, wistful and biting, the undereducated but perceptive Mattie details episodes in a painful, 22-year voyage of self-discovery. First novelist Godwin invents scenarios that clearly express Mattie's sense of herself as peripheral--early in her marriage, for example, she tolerates an endless series of phone calls from an eavesdropping clerk at the Turner store who is all too eager to feed her late-breaking gossip. Later, a hysterectomy compels Mattie to confront her deep sense of loss and limitation. By novel's end, a hurricane has swept through the town, prompting Mattie to hurtle her way toward independence: "The wind has blown through, and I'm tired of forever looking back." Godwin chooses original and telling moments from Mattie's marriage, but her pacing is too indulgent and her tale of growth and liberation too familiar.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Godwin, Rebecca T.
Published by Longstreet Pr (1992)
ISBN 10: 1563520214 ISBN 13: 9781563520211
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Godwin, Rebecca T.
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