Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South

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9780899198606: Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South

Womenfolks is one of those books that, although written about specific people in a specific place, captures the hearts of all who read it. A rich blend of personal memoir and meditation on family myth and tradition, it is both an illuminating examination of mothers and daughters and a vivid tribute to the gritty, independent women who were the South's true heroines.

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About the Author:

Shirley Abbott is the author of Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South and The Bookmaker's Daughter: A Memory Unbound, which was a New York Times Notable Book. Born and raised in Hot Springs, Arkansas, she now lives in New York and Massachusetts.

Review:

Womenfolks is an illuminating blend of scholarly history, personal reflection, and political essay, spiced with a smattering of what-if historical fiction. Shirley Abbott's research encompasses diaries and journals of early southern immigrants and visitors, family stories, academic histories of the south, and southern historical fiction, all of which she uses methodically to disentangle southern myth from history: "Most Southerners, even those who descend from some distinguished old family or another, can also look back, at quite close range, on at least one line of half-literate farmers who scratched their living out of the dirt one way or another and moved along every generation or so, searching for cheap land and sweet water and the chance to start over again." At the center of her study is the juxtaposition between the generations of the women of her family, and the legendary southern belle. Who were the majority of southern foremothers? What is a southern belle, or, more importantly, what is a southern belle supposed to be and why? In this book, a new version of southern history emerges, one which debunks the enslaving myth of southern bellehood and reveals women as a pivotal force. In witty and lucid prose, Shirley Abbott, a native daughter of Hot Springs, Arkansas, offers new ways - and reasons - for looking at the place we come from. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Jesse Larsen

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