All the Finest Girls

( 2 )

Overview

An elegantly written and unforgettable story about a daughter's love - and where that love lodges when her parents are less than lovable.

Addy Abraham was practically a feral child, untamable and wild - until a new babysitter arrived, Louise, who gave her a haven from her parents' pitched battles.
News of Louise's death startles Addy out of the trance that has become her adult life. She flies to the Caribbean for the funeral, and amid the chaos...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Audiobook)
  • All (1) from $43.42   
  • New (1) from $43.42   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$43.42
Seller since 2011

Feedback rating:

(881)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
Brand new and unread! Join our growing list of satisfied customers!

Ships from: Phoenix, MD

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by
All the Finest Girls: A Novel

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99
BN.com price
This digital version does not exactly match the physical book displayed here.

Overview

An elegantly written and unforgettable story about a daughter's love - and where that love lodges when her parents are less than lovable.

Addy Abraham was practically a feral child, untamable and wild - until a new babysitter arrived, Louise, who gave her a haven from her parents' pitched battles.
News of Louise's death startles Addy out of the trance that has become her adult life. She flies to the Caribbean for the funeral, and amid the chaos and grief of Louise's family, Addy confronts the myths that helped her survive her childhood - the same ones that have made her adult life a barren ground. Celebrating Louise's life, she arrives at a new hope for her own.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Washington Post Book World <%REVIEW%> Bark
Filled with a rage nearly erotic in its intensity. Extremely moving and powerful.
People
...a touching novel...
LA Times Book Review
...a picture woven of antique brocade, carefully constructed sentences, well-chosen adjectives...a searing portrait of a generation...
Library Journal
When Adelaide Kane Abraham travels to the Caribbean island of St. Clair to attend the funeral of her beloved nanny, the realities of grief brush up against the political conditions that sent Louise Alfred to Connecticut to care for her. Adelaide's first lesson occurs immediately, when she discovers that Louise's kin are less than thrilled to meet her. Indeed, some folks including the children Lou abandoned when she took the job with the Abrahams are downright hostile. As she begins to probe, Addie discovers that she barely knew Louise; shamefully, she had never even considered the conditions that sent her "black mother" hurtling north. As the truth about Louise's life unfolds, Addie is forced to deconstruct her ideas about race and class. The result is a resonant, wise novel, told simply and nonrhetorically. Although readers will close the book uncertain about the ways in which Addie will use her newfound sensitivity, one cannot help but be optimistic, sure that she will somehow change herself, if not the world. A terrific debut by a stunning writer who is also the daughter of novelist William Styron, this novel is highly recommended for all libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/01.] Eleanor J. Bader, Brooklyn, New York Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Disappointing debut fiction from the daughter of William Styron: the story of a poor little rich girl who realizes that her beloved black nanny had a life outside her family's palatial Connecticut home. Addy Abraham, 32-year-old daughter of a famous philosopher and a beautiful actress, suffers from a crippling anxiety disorder that prevents her from forging close relationships, romantic or otherwise. But when her childhood nanny Louise dies, Addy takes a few pills and manages to quell her fears of travel and social interaction, then flies to the Caribbean island of St. Clair for the funeral. Ensconced in Lou's hilltop home, Addy reflects on her own troubled childhood, learns something about the island's political history, and meets the cast of characters featured in Lou's long-ago stories—all of whom serve more as fodder for Addy's insecurities and complaints than as actual, fully realized people. "You know what she used to call me? Her white daughter," she tells Lou's sons, Derek and Phillip. But the islanders don't exactly treat her like a long-lost relation, and Addy is forced to question whether her love for Lou had actually been reciprocated. " ‘Do yah evah tink about anyone but yahself? Yah must tink yah de only person in de goddamn world,' " Derek says to Addy when she tries to engage him in a conversation about her favorite subject (herself). Unfortunately, for the sake of the story, he's right: Addy is so unbearably narcissistic and immature that it's difficult to sustain interest in her thin plight. "God, I was sick of myself," she thinks at one point, aptly echoing the reader's sentiments. Despite many gorgeous turns of phrase and Styron's masterful use ofCaribbean dialect, All the Finest Girls is undone by labored plotting and the sulky narrator-heroine's lack of self-awareness—not to mention plain old awareness.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596006751
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 6/25/2005
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Alexandra Styron
Alexandra Styron holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University. All the Finest Girls is her first book.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

I've never been much of a traveler, particularly not to places under the sun's fiercest gaze. So it was with a will borne of some strange and ungovernable desire that on a midwinter day I flew from New York to the Caribbean island of St. Clair.

Ssss. Lady. Whereyouwannago?

Stepping out from the terminal at the Thomas P. Rose Airport, I was instantly enclosed by a clutch of taxi drivers jostling one another for my fare. The little concrete building stood open-faced to the road, and everywhere vacationers in bright cotton and baseball caps hustled about, shouting to each other Over here, Bill, this guy says he can take us above the clackety clack of idling shuttle buses. I tried to press forward but collided with a rolling suitcase that slammed against my knee, missed only a beat, and continued smartly on. Out in the sun, the noonday heat rose and shimmered like grease in a pan.

"Someone will be picking yah up," Lou's sister had said when we spoke the day before, ringing off before I could get more detail. I looked around at the circus of people and felt a flutter of nausea. My face, caught in the reflection of a car window, was tense as a drum. After what must have been ten abject minutes bobbing around in the chaos of island reception, I retreated to a shaded bench and began searching my bag for a pair of sandals.

A sad, familiar noise, the rattle of pills against plastic, came from somewhere beneath my clothes. Oval and blue as robins' eggs, the pills were meant to soften a spur of anxiety that sometimes went for the base of my skull. I'd taken one and slept, badly, the night before, and again on the airplane, only to wake numb and blue under the blast of the air-conditioning system. In the tropical air, my medication hangover plus the two layers of wool I wore were making me feel smothered. I cursed aloud, and a woman seated next to me inched down the bench.

It was then -barefoot, my bag half unpacked-that I heard my name. A tall, chestnut-colored man with a precise flat-top hair-cut had planted himself before me, blocking out the sun. I stood up quickly and felt myself wobble as the blood rushed from my head.

"You Adelaide?" he said, looking not at but past me and jingling the keys in his pants pocket.

The smooth planes of the man's face were interrupted by two tight, walnutlike bunches of muscle in his jaw. I pushed my belongings back into the bag and extended my hand, but the airport PA system just then crackled to life, drowning out my response. Ladies and gentlemen, flight forty-three to St. Thomas with continuing service to San Juan will now begin preboarding at gate two. Passengers with small children Ignoring me, the man took my bag and walked away. I followed, shoeless, as we weaved through a chorus of gaily dressed young women holding up signs for Sandals and Club Med. Picking my way along the hot graveled road, I nearly lost sight of him. At last, on a narrow grass divider, I caught up as he stopped for traffic. His face wore the expression of a man willing himself to be alone.

"I'm sorry. I didn't catch your name," I said as we moved off again.

"Derek," he answered.

Derek; an adult face to go with the name I'd once worried like a rosary. As a little girl, I'd imagined meeting Lou's boys a hundred times, had fashioned them with thoughts and personalities as if clothing imaginary dolls. None of my fantasies had resembled this sudden, brittle truth.

The seats of Derek's car were small and close, forcing me to tuck in my elbows so he could shift as we got under way. Sweat streamed down my back. Timidly, I flapped the hem of my sweater for relief, not daring to remove anything else in the tight space of the car. Perhaps meaning to be helpful, or not, Derek flipped a switch and an infernal blast of air spewed from the vents. I sat back and tried to act relaxed.

The car lurched ahead and soon we were careering along a wrecked main thoroughfare that hugged the southern coast of St. Clair. It ran like a ribbon through tattered seaside villages, opening up to sandy inlets with pink hotels, and giving way here and there to a long view of a busy Caribbean harbor town. On Derek's side of the car, the lee side, sugarcane fields ran ragged to the green hills of the north. The line between quaint and calamitous wavered with each bump and turn in the rutted road.

Feigning interest in the scenery, I managed at last to get a good look at Derek. His skin was several shades lighter than his mother's, but the features were eerily familiar. The fine, curved etches around his mouth reminded me powerfully of Lou and, for a second or two, took my breath away. I thought of her dipping her wrist in my bathwater and pausing in silent contemplation. I tried not to stare.

"When's the service?" I asked, finally, after we'd traveled a long mile in silence. The question cast a harsh glow on the ordeal ahead, a picture of which hung for a moment like a scrim between us. Derek clenched and unclenched his jaw.

"Two days' time."

"That's good," I said. "I mean, it's all a lot to handle, I'm sure." Just ahead a goat was coming down off an embankment and into the road. Derek swerved to avoid it, never taking his foot off the accelerator.

"It's just terrible what happened," I added, pitching my voice to a near shout as Derek threw the little car into low gear. He braked and, without any indication of having heard me, made a sharp turn onto an unpaved side street. On either side of the road, drab houses of cinder block and tin lined up in slack rows, one or two decorated with dirty curtains and window boxes. Halfway down the block, at a peeling yellow door, we came to an abrupt halt. Derek left me and went inside. I got out of the car to pull off my sweater and, in the sanctum of that momentary eclipse, wondered just what the hell I thought I was doing there.

It was just past dawn when my mother had called with the news. My bedroom was still dark, save for a wan spoke of winter light barely grazing my dirty window. She spoke quickly, wedging her words in before I could look at the clock.

"Good morning, darling, it's Mom. Sorry to wake you, I just thought you'd want to know Louise died." My mother had a tennis partner named Louise, a tiny woman whose face-lifts had had the strange effect of making her look beaten up. For a moment I thought of her and could not imagine why Mom would call me with this information. We're not close, my mother and I. Not in that way. I'm not the person she would look to for comfort.

"June, you remember June, she called first thing. Isn't that dear? She's still with the Rubinsteins."

It was then that an image of Louise, as familiar as my own thumb, first appeared. Not my mother's friend, but Lou, my Lou. Dressed in her Sunday clothes, she was walking straight as a rod down my grandmother Edith's looping driveway, toward church.

"How?" I asked, lying still beneath the covers.

"You remember she couldn't swim?"

"No."

"Well, it seems she drowned."

My mother paused. The upset I heard in her silence rattled me. She wanted me to ask for details. She would have liked, I'm sure, to simply talk with me. And I did want to know more, but I was too far gone, too deep in my campaign of truculence to make the long march back.

After a moment, she continued.

Here we were, then, playing our parts.

"She hadn't been doing well, physically, for some time. Something about her heart, I think. The night before, her sister put her to bed but, in the morning. Well. Oh, Addy, I think it was just awful. They couldn't find her, if you can imagine. Someone, two boys, I think, discovered her body a mile or so down the beach. She was dressed as if she were going somewhere."

I could feel my mother straining through the telephone wires, trying to make contact with me. The phone itself seemed water-logged with her need. I worked to put all the pieces together in my sleep-bent head.

"Isn't that the oddest thing?" she said, her theatrical voice now in its upper, excited register. When I said nothing, she exhaled and regained herself.

"Anyway. I just thought you ought to know."

"Thanks for calling," I said. "I appreciate it. Really."

"How are you feeling? Can I do anything for you?"

"Nope." I reached over and banged on the radiator, which sometimes helped to draw the heat up from downstairs. "I'm fine."

"Well, OK then. Love you," she said, her last words trolling along hopefully.

I lay in bed and felt the world zoom into excruciatingly sharp focus. A garbage can rattled. Two dogs barked. A dark, ineffable thought coiled, hissed, collapsed. I'd been sick recently, and undone more than I cared to admit. The virus had flattened me physically, but beyond that another, more persistent and scarier, germ had spread. Whatever it was had rattled my self-confidence and made me uneasy, as though someone or something were always at my back. I got better, but I wasn't the same. I felt hunted, and haunted. That morning, when my mother's news reached me, I had the distinct sensation that I'd at last been caught.

I told my boss that there had been a death in my family. "Dreadfully sorry, Adelaide," she whispered, tucking her head down with perfect English reserve. Since I'd been out sick - my first leave of absence in four years with the museum - I'd detected an almost fearful courtesy from Emmeline. She gave me a wide berth, rarely checking on the progress of my work and encouraging me each day to go home early and "have a lie down." She'd even tried to pass on to someone else the painting I was restoring, evidently suspicious that the little predella itself was the cause of my undoing. But I'd refused. I needed in some insistent way to see the job through. When I decided to go to St. Clair for the funeral, Emmeline offered me as much time as I needed.

A screen door whined and banged shut as I got back in the car. From a cluster of bougainvillea Derek emerged, balancing a small boy in the crook of his arm. The boy, four or five years old, wore a baseball cap and red sneakers. Derek held him with casual pride, and the boy giggled and squirmed in his confident grip.

"This is my son," he said brusquely, as he lowered the boy to the ground and opened the back door of the car. "Cyril, this is Adelaide. Now get on in."

Derek walked around to the driver's side. I watched the boy as he twisted himself onto the floor to get at a plastic dump truck. When he sat up again, he looked frankly into my eyes.

"My granmumma died," he said. "She drownded."

"I know," I replied. Was I shouting?

"She was a great friend of mine," I ventured again, more quietly. Cyril nodded and ran his dump truck along the vinyl seat beside him. Derek backed quickly down the street, then peeled out again on the main road.

"Wow. He looks just like you did," I said to Derek, taken by the resemblance.

For the first time, Derek looked directly at me. His eyes, like a Rousseau tiger's, reflected the light. They prohibited investigation.

"How do you know?" he asked.

"Pictures."

He turned his attention back to the road.

"She had them up in her room."

The road snaked north, pulling away from the coast and up a mountain pass. Every few miles, a group of weather-beaten houses appeared in a small cluster, and here and there men sat about under the high sun doing what looked to be nothing. Derek turned on the radio. A disc jockey spoke rapidly in the local dialect, and I felt the hair rise suddenly on the back of my neck.

Lawd, look me gwan on in dis kotesi kotela ya catch me happosite, an anyway me needin to mek dis girl her supper

Lou, on the phone, and me with an ear bent to the musical notes of her voice, suddenly in a language entirely other-French inflected, a word or two I'd learned in school. The sounds come out happy and loose, like dropping change.

Her voice seemed to come from somewhere inside the car-the vents, the speakers-then just as quickly disappeared, fluttering out the window into the warm air. I was tired, surely. Not myself. I fixed my eyes back on the road and we rode along, the three of us in our separateness, northward through the lush hills.

Copyright (c) 2001 by Alexandra Styron

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

1. Why does Adelaide go to St. Clair? Who is she trying to help?

2. What parallels exist between Addy and Louise's journeys away from home, if any?

3. How do Addy's childhood feelings of neglect and isolation affect her adult life?

4. Is Cat real? What does Cat symbolize?

5. Is Addy crazy? Was she ever?

6. Did Lou love Addy as she would her own child, or, as Derek says, was she merely caring for Addy to get paid?

7. Did Louise commit suicide, or, as Marva says, does she just "lose her head and fall in the ocean"? Either way, can Errol be considered responsible for her death? What does Derek think?

8. Can Derek, Philip, or even Errol's professional shortcomings be attributed to Lou's absence from their lives?

9. Does Addy feel responsible for Errol not marrying Lou? If Lou had stayed in St. Clair, would Errol have married her? Or is it Errol who drove Lou away in the first place?

10. Is it possible that Addy truly considers Lou her equal, a part of her family, or is she denying her own racist tendencies?

11. Is Addy responsible for inspiring Derek's anger? Or, as Phillip tells Addy, is it just that "Derek would have been pissed if he'd been born the Duke of Windsor"?

12. Do Derek and Phillip ever see Addy the way she comes to see them, as a "true sibling"? Is there any sexual tension between Addy and either of Lou's sons?

13. Why is there no evidence of Addy, or even the United States, in Lou's St. Clair bedroom?

14. Addy contemplates leaving St. Clair several times. At one point, she even hires a taxi and packs her bags. Is this desire to flee unique to St. Clair, or an extension of her lifelong instinct to run away, to "get out of herself"? How does she overcome her fear and sense of alienation? Why does she even try?

15. When Addy is introduced to Errol at the funeral party, he acts as though they had never met. Did they meet on the beach, or was it one of Addy's blackouts, or perhaps a heat stroke-induced fantasy?

16. How does Lou's death and her funeral change Addy? Does she get over her sense of being an outsider, her feeling of "otherness," her feeling of being "invisible"?

17. Neither of Addy's parents gave her the kind of love she sought as a child. What kind of mother is Baby? What kind of father is Hank? Is either of them ever exonerated in Addy's eyes?

18. Has Addy been mourning an unhappy childhood, or has she been grieving the loss of her youth? Why?

19. What does Addy learn about the comfort of being loved versus the joy of loving others?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2004

    psychological thriller!

    Addy¿s occupation is an artwork restorer, and by going to the Caribbean for the funeral, she restores her past in the same way that she restores artwork. One of the main themes in the book is the theme of redemption and discovery of the past. Addy deals with the tough question of love, loss, and redemption. A very important question in the novel is whether those we love, who have the greatest impact upon us, truly regard us in the same way. Derek, Lou¿s son, says to Addy, ¿ But now I realize it doesn¿t matter if you are loved. It¿s enough to love. Whether yah loved back or not. Yah don¿t ask why, yah just do.¿ This book includes so many writing techniques that make it a good book. It makes you want to keep reading it. There is tension in the book and so many events that are rare and interesting, but at the same time, very realistic. The reader jumps right into Addy¿s skin and experiences what she has to go through to uncover her past and make the best of the present. As a child, Addy had psychological problems that nobody dealt with in the right way, except for Lou. Lou I not try to tame her or change her. She accepted her.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2001

    Like father, like daughter

    Fascinating story of what it's like to look like you have everything but feel like you have nothing. Writing well must be in the genes of that family. Styron captures alienation beautifully and depicts the island culture with an unerring ear. I loved this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)