In the Hope of Rising Again

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This is the story of the Riants and the Morrows-and the wealth of household help and extended family that make up their circle. As such it is history told through one family's fate: the story of the South, as it rose slowly, unsteadily, from the ruins of the Civil War and stuttered into the twentieth century and the age of speculation and boom. Filled with incisive reflections on death, love, atonement, friendship, race, and most of all, family, In the Hope of Rising Again is the stunning debut of a writer of ...

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2004 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 312 p. Audience: General/trade.

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This is the story of the Riants and the Morrows-and the wealth of household help and extended family that make up their circle. As such it is history told through one family's fate: the story of the South, as it rose slowly, unsteadily, from the ruins of the Civil War and stuttered into the twentieth century and the age of speculation and boom. Filled with incisive reflections on death, love, atonement, friendship, race, and most of all, family, In the Hope of Rising Again is the stunning debut of a writer of great insight and imagination.

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Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
In the Hope of Rising Again is surprising and captivating, even if its final message is simply: "As long as time moves forward, things are bound to change."
The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
From the post-Civil War era to the Great Depression, this gently ambitious debut follows a prominent Alabama family through victory and loss, fortune and privation, birth and death. At the novel's heart is Regina Riant, the beloved daughter of larger-than-life Colonel Riant. As owner of the Mobile Chronicle, he teaches her magnanimity: "Having everything is... a great responsibility. We have to show God how grateful we are by sharing what we have, otherwise God or the robbers will take it away." Regina's four buffoonish brothers, however, see their inheritance less as an honor than as a right, and squander it on half-baked schemes. Charles Morrow, Regina's husband, is equally unfocused and lacking confidence, causing her great frustration: "Sleeping was heaven: being awake with him at times annoyed her." Even as her strong Catholic faith sometimes wavers, the one constant in Regina's life is her mostly colorblind relationship with maid Camilla. Scully's light touch, even when tackling the heaviest subjects, paints a sweeping yet subtle saga; her message of resilience is inspiring while eschewing melodrama. "Everything and everyone would fall in the end, and only in such leveling could one discover everything latent: courage, intelligence, heart-the formula for prevailing." This is an impressive historical novel by an author to watch. Agent, Jim Rutman. 7-city author tour. (July 27) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Improbable plot makes for a disappointing debut about a once-grand southern family who loses almost everything in the Depression but somehow keeps going. The beginning is promising as Louisiana-born Colonel Riant, back from the Civil War, moves to Mobile, Alabama, where he marries wealthy Regina. This first Regina-there are two others-is soon felled by yellow fever, and the grieving Colonel (the most credible character here) devotes himself to good works, business ventures, and running the city's only newspaper. Fifteen years later, he marries again-another Regina-in what is for both a marriage of convenience: he needs a family, she needs money. Regina Two, not the warmest of women, has four sons whom she spoils rotten, then a daughter-Regina Three-who becomes the protagonist of the novel, which is like one of those dreams where people inexplicably appear, then just as inexplicably disappear in disconnected scenes. When Regina is 17, in 1915, she falls in love with visiting Chinese Ahlong, a college friend of one her brothers. Ahlong proposes marriage, and the family gives it their blessing-stretching credibility, given the racial prejudice of the era-but Regina feels obliged to stay home and take care of the Colonel, so exit Ahlong. In 1919, she abruptly marries Charles Morrow, who is ambitious but increasingly unstable, and moves with him to his remote timber plantation. Then just as suddenly they're back again with the Riants in Mobile, where Regina now has three children and the eldest dies of leukemia. Charles fatally shoots himself while drunk, and Regina's brothers do little but spend money before suddenly marrying after years of bachelorhood, a decision compelling them finally toseek employment. Regina struggles to survive the Depression and is saved emotionally by a surprise visit from a relative-and, financially, by an unexpected windfall. Little connects, and the pretentious prose is as enervating as the climate.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594200250
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 7/22/2004
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.36 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Helen Scully was born in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1977 and attended Brown University. She worked in publishing in New York City before moving to Barcelona in 2001, where she wrote art columns for the magazine Barcelona Metropolitan.

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Read an Excerpt

In the Hope of Rising Again

A Novel
By Helen Scully

The Penguin Press

ISBN: 1-59420-025-4

Chapter One

Colonel Riant bequeathed the Mobile Register equally among his five children, but the running of it was left up to his sons. Dividing labor and sharing authority, however, were not their strong suits, besides that they approached their collective office without interest or direction. Only to keep it running was the plan and that, they figured should be simple enough. At least one brother went to the offices every day to counteract a decision his brother had made the day before, spreading confusion among the staff. Peter gained notoriety for firing writers for writing stories that contained anything unpleasant; Louis appointed himself sole writer of the long and highfalutin "Sunday Science" section; Rex miscalculated and recalculated profits; George wrote sonorous columns on manifestations of the Virgin Mary, his specialty being the prophecies of Fatima. Only when the number of advertisers dropped substantially did they admit it was time to attend the monthly board meetings. There, when they weren't standing two at a time to make a statement, they sat back watching the discussion with amusement.

Their lack of interest in the newspaper business left time for betting, primping, fishing, and writing letters. Already being a foursome, bridge was an obvious diversion many afternoons and evenings, the stakes between the four of them astronomically high because it was in the family anyway. At least one of them lost heavily at monthly horse races. Euchre they enjoyed with lady players, always letting themselves lose. Maintaining their toilette was an even greater challenge as it required a balance between the hard and the soft. Every week they were placing orders for some new product-mustache oil, lavender-musk soap, muscle-building tonics, saddle polish, tobacco. Fishing they considered a passion. Twice a week they motored to the house at Bon Secour and checked the soft-shell crab nets. On bourbon-hazed fishing trips to Bay Minette or Pensacola they considered it a triumph to catch two red snappers. In the Riant box at the theater, they fell asleep as soon as the lights went down.

Despite all this variety of pursuits, their only callus was between the fore- and middle fingers of their four right hands for letter writing was their particular forte. Letter writing was the reason for those four imposing rolltop desks that crowded the study; letter writing was the be-all and end-all of their days. To write letters was the reason they bothered to have friends, family, or romantic interests. They enjoyed only the heaviest, wettest rag paper and envelopes, the finest of pens and every accessory under the sun, blotters, wax seals, and lens-less spectacles. Like dogs they listened for the mail wagon, raced to the base of the stairs, and fought viciously to be the first with his hands on the pile of mail. They expected to get back what they sent, one to one, and held grudges against anyone who failed to answer a letter within three days' time.

The four of them writing to young ladies, not to mention aging aunts, old friends, and cousins as well as notes to one another, produced an average of twenty-five letters a day. God knows how they must have strained to include an interesting tidbit, for their lives were a sea of monotonous luxury, the surface of which was punctured by feats of uncleverness and tasteless pranks. Undoubtedly they had help from The Men's Etiquette, Personal Letter-Writing Outline, which each kept in his top desk drawer:

Dear ________ (comma)

1. general questions about the recipient's condition

2. several paragraphs detailing the writer's news (keep light and humorous, at the same time building in emotion-thread together with relevance to the recipient)

3. in-depth response to an issued mention in the recipient's most recent letter, or mention plans to meet

Love (comma) your affectionate (insert relationship; i.e., brother, friend) (comma) X (your name)

True to form, they conducted the main thrust of their various courtships through the mail. New debutantes received two letters a week from each of the brothers, all reporting similar poetics in the same cloudily seductive manner:

Dear my dear,

How are you? I can't get the smell of your hair out of my head or the feel of your silk dress out of my fingers. I'm pretty sure I feel strongly for you. I won today at bridge, with Peter as my dummy. We're trying to get Mother to replace the green billiard table with a red one. Pray that we pull it off. It's been two days since I last saw you and I'm still well. Write to me your feelings on this as it's been intolerably humid. I may or may not come by for a visit Sunday. I can't make any promises, you know. Good-bye, darling! Write to me!

Your affectionate suitor, X

Older women still on the wedding market no longer received such nonsense from the brothers as they had long ceased writing back. To their credit, it took the ladies of Mobile less than five years to discover that something was seriously wrong with the Riant brothers.


Excerpted from In the Hope of Rising Again by Helen Scully Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 3 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2008

    Hopelessly Un-hopeful

    I bought In the Hope of Rising Again, hoping that it would be as great as the cover-leaf masterfully described it to be. I tried reading it, but, sadly it did not fit my personality. I felt like the story was very dry and unconnected. The only things I can remember about it are Regina's shawl made out of socks, her random lazy brothers, and the pimply beau who broke her heart. This book is sure to be a blessing to someone, but not me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2007

    My Review

    This book was absolutely amazing. I was hooked the whole time! I took it camping and I read it in three days. The writer keeps you hanging and puts in unexpected twists and turns... especially in the end! =] I loved it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2006

    A book about nothing

    The author introduces characters and situations and then moves on and leaves the reader hanging. In the end, the entire book doesn't go anywhere

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