This deeply felt memoir is a journey through family history, feminist insight, and southern mythology. In it a daughter reflects on the complicated and volatile love she and her father shared. Shirley Jean Abbott grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in the 1940s and 50s and was the beloved daughter of Alfred Bemont Abbott, affectionately known as “Hat.” Hat wasn’t a bookmaker in the literary sense, even though he allowed Shirley’s mother to believe as much while they were dating. Rather, his craft was gambling, and his business was horse racing.
Despite the corruption, which put food on the table and rabbit coats in the closet, Abbott remembers the kind and attentive father who spent nights reading to her. He alone is responsible for opening the door to a world of language and literature for her. And she ran with it. Against her father’s wishes, after graduation she headed for New York City. In the end, the girl he had nurtured into an independent and intelligent young woman had outgrown the small town where she grew up. The Bookmaker’s Daughter was originally published by Ticknor and Fields in 1992 and was a Book of the Month Club selection.
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With a New Introduction by the Author.
If All Arkansas Read the Same Book/2006 Selected by the Arkansas Center for the BookAbout the Author:
Shirley Abbott lives in Manhattan and works as a freelance writer and editor. She is also the author of Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South and Love’s Apprentice: The Romantic Education of a Modern Woman. In 2005 she was awarded the Porter Fund Literary Prize, presented annually to an Arkansas writer who has accomplished a substantial and impressive body of work that merits enhanced recognition.
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