Heartbreak Hotel

Heartbreak Hotel

4.3 3
by Anne Rivers Siddons

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Alabama, 1956: While Elvis Presley was singing about love, one young woman was learning about life.

Everyone loves Maggie Deloach, one of the most popular girls on campus with everything going for her. An impeccable lineage. Picture-perfect looks. The best sorority, and the best fraternity boy's pin. The ultimate Southern belle, Maggie knows what the rules

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Alabama, 1956: While Elvis Presley was singing about love, one young woman was learning about life.

Everyone loves Maggie Deloach, one of the most popular girls on campus with everything going for her. An impeccable lineage. Picture-perfect looks. The best sorority, and the best fraternity boy's pin. The ultimate Southern belle, Maggie knows what the rules are and is willing to play by them. No surprises are waiting in her future -- but neither are any disappointments.

Then, amid the stifling heat of an Alabama summer, everything changes. There is talk of a racial revolution brewing, one that surely should not touch her protected world... but somehow does. There is growing sexual awareness that she knows should shock her... yet does not. There is a single act of defiance and courage that will forever alter the way others think of her... and how Maggie thinks herself.

"An absolute gem... a rare and wonderful book."
--Richmond News Leader

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The year is 1956. Eisenhower is president, the United States is prosperous, and Elvis is King. Underneath this happy era of relative peace are the powder kegs of the Civil and Women's Rights movements. Maggie Deloach is a senior at a small Southern college. She is a golden girl, active in sorority and campus functions, and attached to Boots Claiborne, a rich fellow whom she is expected to marry. She is on the path to being the perfect Southern matron. However, a series of events shatter Maggie's perfect world and make her aware of the storm lurking beneath the calm of the times. Though painfully slow in starting, listeners will enjoy this tale of a young woman who realizes that she is not happy with the life she is expected to lead. For most collections.-- Danna C. Bell-Russel, Marymount Univ. Lib. , Arlington, Va.
From the Publisher
"Anne Rivers Siddons...delivers the goods — the whole fabulous package — with every book she writes."

— Pat Conroy, bestselling author of The Prince of Tides

"Marvelously detailed."

The New York Times

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.85(d)

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Chapter One

The making of Maggie Deloach was a process as as indigenous to her part of the South as the making of cotton textiles in the fortress-bricked mills that crouched over the muddy, fast-moving rivers of the Georgia and Alabama plateau country. But it was a process far more narrowly applied. In the cities of the South -- in Atlanta and Birmingham and Charlotte and Mobile and Charleston -- there were perhaps a hundred Maggies, flowering in any given year, girls planted, tended, and grown like prize roses, to be cut and massed and shown at debutant balls and cotillions in their eighteenth year. Unlike roses, they did not die after the showing; instead, they moved gently into colleges and universities and Junior League chapters, and were then pressed between the leaves of substantial marriages to be dried and preserved.

In the smaller towns, there were always perhaps three or four current Maggies. And in the smallest, like Lytton, there was only a Maggie. Nevertheless, the technique of creation varied only in small details and circumstances. It was a process of rules, subtle, shaded, iron bylaws that were tacitly drafted in burned and torn households sometime during the Reconstruction by frail, reeling gentlewomen throughout the exploded South, laws for the shaping of new women who would be, forever after, impervious to casual, impersonal chaos. The formula lasted, with only those modifications that were a nod to the times, through a world war and a depression and another world war, and its end product, the young women of a certain caste of the South, were, on the main, as uniformly bright, hard, shining,and true as bullets from identical molds. There was no reason to think that The Rules would fail to hold, certainly no omens of mechanical malfunction, when the life of Maggie Deloach began.

And so it was that Maggie's making began far earlier than the April night of her conception in the mahogany bed with pineapple finials that stood in a high-ceilinged bedroom of the house that had belonged to four generations of Deloaches. Comer Deloach, just out of the University of Georgia law school, had brought Frances Hamilton there as a bride of twenty, a tall, unworldly, drooping farm girl fresh from a north Georgia female academy. For the first four years of their marriage, Frances and Comer had shared the house with Comer's mother, a still-pretty woman of such relentless Christian charity that she had driven Comer's father, a stout, flushed dentist, to increasingly frequent all-night fox and possum hunts with what she called his Cronies, in Lytton's surrounding pine woods. On one of those nights of drinking sour mash and following the baying speckled hounds, Big Comer had stumbled into an abandoned well on the deserted old MacIntosh homeplace, covered only by tangled kudzu vines, and had broken his neck. By the time the fuddled Cronies had summoned old Dr. Clayton and the Lytton constabulary, with flashlights and ropes, Comer was dead.

For two years after his death, Elvira Deloach had lived comfortably alone on insurance and the considerable rentals from Deloach properties, largely in the black section of Lytton called Lightning, and had dispensed her charity to the less fortunate of Lytton and its environs via the funnel of the First Methodist Church of Lytton. And when Comer and Frances moved into the old Deloach place on Coleman Street, she leveled it at the young couple, chiefly at Frances, since Comer's proud new association with an Atlanta law firm meant an hour's train ride to the city, nine hours in the firm's library, and another chuffing hour's ride home. Frances Hamilton Deloach, conventional and biddable from her curly crown to her long, narrow feet, soon learned to fear, loathe, and obey her mother-in-law, and to ferment with tightly capped resentment even while she sat smiling with Evira's missionary circle in the cool afternoon cave of her living room, studying Elvira's endless tracts and sewing awkwardly for the newly-come-to-Jesus in darkest Africa. Always, when as the junior member of the circle she was dispatched to the cavernous kitchen to bring in the tray of coconut cake and iced tea, prepared by muttering Theopal, she would hear the beedrone of conversation drop to the level ofa sweetly malignant litany, and she knew Elvira was sighing to a breath-held circle of Christian ladies about her daughter-in-law's ineptitude at the kitchen range and the lacy iron Singer sewing machine, her lack of initiative in the Work of the Church, and her inferior Hamilton antecedents. ("She tries, I suppose, but everybody knows they sharecropped until the twenties, at least, and the Good Lord only knows where they got money enough to send that child to Brenau. Jess MacLaren told me for a fact that there's no Hamilton money in his bank. Blood tells.")

By the time Maggie was conceived, Frances Deloach was unalterably a cowed and silently angry woman, but a confirmed standard-bearer of The Rules. They had, after all, gotten her off a sharecropper's red acres and into a lawyer's house.

Maggie's conception was accomplished in dead silence under cover of a spring thunderstorm and with the barest possible minimum of bedspring squeaking. Sanctified joy under her own roof was something Elvira Deloach effectively discouraged by calling softly to her son, through their connecting bedroom doors, that she thought she'd heard an intruding animal in the chicken coop, or that she'd heard an odd noise, almost like a moan; was Comer or Frances feeling ill? Or that she was "feeling her bad old stomach again" and would he please bring her a glass of Sal Hepatica, as she'd left her glasses on the sun porch again, silly woman that she was. She varied the timing of her nocturnal requests; a mutely furious Frances and a resigned Comer could...

Heartbreak Hotel. Copyright © by Anne Rivers Siddons. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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