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— Philadelphia Inquirer
Shelby Foote's magnificently orchestrated novel anticipates much of the subject matter of his monumental Civil War trilogy, rendering the clash between North and South with a violence all the more shocking for its intimacy. Love in a Dry Season describes an erotic and economic triangle, in which two wealthy and fantastically unhappy Mississippi families — the Barcrofts...
— Philadelphia Inquirer
Shelby Foote's magnificently orchestrated novel anticipates much of the subject matter of his monumental Civil War trilogy, rendering the clash between North and South with a violence all the more shocking for its intimacy. Love in a Dry Season describes an erotic and economic triangle, in which two wealthy and fantastically unhappy Mississippi families — the Barcrofts and the Carrutherses — are joined by an open-faced fortune hunter from the North, a man whose ruthlessness is matched only by his inability to understand the people he tries to exploit and his fatal incomprehension of the passions he so casually ignites. Combining a flawless sense of place with a Faulknerian command of the grotesque, Foote's novel turns a small cotton town into a sexual battleground as fatal as Vicksburg or Shiloh — and one where strategy is no match for instinct and tradition.
A magnificently orchestrated novel of two Depression-era Mississippi families which is "as modern as today's newpaper, as old as Mosaic law" The New York Times and renders the clash between North and South with a violence all the more shocking for its intimacy.
Posted November 30, 2005
Shelby Foote, a writer best known for his three volume historical work, The Civil War: A Narrative (1958 - 1974), is also a highly regarded novelist and short story writer whose themes concern the heritage and culture of the American South. Foote was born in Greenville, Mississippi. His father died when he was five, and his mother raised him alone. Foote attended the University of North Carolina, however when the Second World War began, he dropped out of college and joined the National Guard. He began writing stories while waiting for his unit to be mobilized, and sold his first short story to the Saturday Evening Post in 1946. Buoyed by this success, he immediately began writing full time. Foote published five novels in quick succession, beginning with Tournament in 1949, Follow Me Down in 1950, and Love in a Dry Season in 1951. All three received admirable reviews, yet none were popular sellers. Love in a Dry Season is the best example of Foote¿s typical, reflective narrative style in which reality and illusion intermingle revealing a melancholy connection to the south and the past. As Dry Season opens, Foote maps out the history of three families in brief detail. The Barcrofts, an odd family of three, consists of an overprotective father and two reclusive daughters. One of the girls, Amanda, becomes embroiled in a sordid love affair. Jeff and Amy Carruthers are unhappily married and stay together only because of social standing and decorum. Amy, a disloyal wife and consummate flirt, becomes passionately obsessed with Harley Drew who is also desired by Amanda. Drew exudes charm and southern grace however the author soon reveals his true manipulative, selfish character. Drew¿s real intention is to marry money, and he soon abandons beautiful Amanda for more promising opportunities with wealthy Carruthers. Foote satisfies a proclivity for complexity with twists and turns intertwined throughout all of his plots. True to this literary form, Drew is taken by surprise by the consequences of his choices. Isolation and decline is an underlying theme throughout the novel and war is utilized as a constant metaphor. Although Foote was most acclaimed for his works of history, he maintained that he was primarily a writer of fiction. His interesting perspective on the importance of fiction was recorded in an interview before his death in 2005: ¿I consider myself a novelist who spent twenty years writing history. I maintain that professional historians would do well to learn something about the craft of the novel. This is based on my belief in a paradox that Oscar Wilde pronounced which is that nature imitates art. I think that's profoundly true. Until Renoir painted Renoir's children there weren't any Renoir children. Once he painted them, there were Renoir children all over hell and gone. Once the first painter saw colors in shadows, shadows took on colors for the first time. They hadn't had them before that. And the main thing I noticed about this application of art to life is when I began to get old enough for people I knew well to have died living a fairly full life. I realized that when someone dies, it puts an end to a thing that is truly a work of art. It has a beginning, middle, and an end. Until the end occurs, you don't know where the middle occurs. It truly does take on that form.¿ Love in a Dry Season is a poignant novel that takes on the full impact of human failures, powerlessness, and loneliness. In terms of the human drama, Foote presents an intriguing perspective on life and southern society. Love in a Dry Season is a satisfying literary journey that speaks to the heart of its readers.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 5, 2011
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