This One and Magic Life by Anne C. George
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the story of a not necessarily typical Southern family. Possibly one of the best examples of Southern Lit I've come across in a long time. Ms. George creates an ensemble of memorable characters. Sarah and Thomas, the first generation of Sullivans in Harlowe, Alabama. Artie, Donnie, and Hektor, their children, who share a horrible secret. Mariel, Donnie's wife, who feels that Artie "stole" her daughter, Dolly. The story opens with the last moments of Artie's life and unfolds after her death. Emotions are stirred when the lawyer reveals Artie's last request. She wants to be cremated. Her family divides on the subject, as they are Catholic. Each of the second generation deal with Artie's death through their own lens. Donnie honors her last request and has her cremated in Birmingham. Mariel fakes the funeral with a closed casket. Hektor has his own private funeral with some of Artie's ashes and a questionable priest he drags out of the swamps of Mississippi.
As with most families, there are triumphs, tragedies, misunderstandings, and varying degrees of dysfunction. Through flashbacks and dialogue, Ms. George reveals slowly and precisely the events and relationships that create dysfunction in this family. The roots of jealousy and misunderstanding which began with Sarah and Thomas are revealed as each character examines their relationship with the deceased. Perhaps, the character that grows the most throughout the experience is the sister-in-law, Mariel, as she redefines and rebuilds her relationship with her daughter.
I would recommend this to anyone who loves Southern Literature.
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