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When Lucy was fifteen, her mother died. Everything that has followed - her education, husband, and child - has been "after the fact." Her perennial grief is compounded by a sense of never having really known her mother, who ran away to California, then came home pregnant at seventeen. Did she really love Lucy? Could she have struggled harder to live? Lucy has only the image of her mothers stepping down from a train into her own mother's arms, and her memories of an enigmatic, melancholy woman. How often she has ...
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New York, NY 1997 Hard cover New ed. New in new dust jacket. lt shelfwear-Book Appears Unread Sewn binding. Paper over boards. 301 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

When Lucy was fifteen, her mother died. Everything that has followed - her education, husband, and child - has been "after the fact." Her perennial grief is compounded by a sense of never having really known her mother, who ran away to California, then came home pregnant at seventeen. Did she really love Lucy? Could she have struggled harder to live? Lucy has only the image of her mothers stepping down from a train into her own mother's arms, and her memories of an enigmatic, melancholy woman. How often she has thought, I wish there were more to know. More to tell. The reader does know more. "Emma Laura's Book," which opens with a family gathered for a portrait in a 1938 West Texas farm town, sweeps to wartime Hollywood and illuminates the myth of the vibrant young woman whose beauty might have made her a star. Nearly half a century later, in "Lucy's Book," her daughter is struggling to recover from a terrible injury when she realizes her family life is falling apart. Lucy's visit to her last older relative, her funny and feisty Aunt Opal in Lubbock, Texas, leads to the discovery of a second photograph taken that day in 1938. From there she embarks on a quest to understand her mother's young life, as a way to see the plain truth of her own. Only as she accepts the mystery of her mother's story can she begin to live a real and present life.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The seemingly inexhaustible potential for mothers to ruin daughter's lives—even if it's by dying young—is probed in a novel that tries to be warm, wise, and moving, but without much success.

Scofield (Opal on Dry Ground, 1994, etc.) assembles a strong cast of supporting characters to tell the story of a woman obsessed with her mother's early death. But the weakest figures here, unfortunately, are the two protagonists: mother Emma and daughter Lucy, whose self-destructive and self-absorbed lives evoke more impatience than sympathy—even when Emma has to abandon her dream career and the grown Lucy's family walks out on her. Now 45, Lucy, still unhappy and yearning to understand why her life seems so wretched, tells a story framed by two photographs: one taken of her mother in May 1938, full of promise, and another of herself as a baby in the 1940s. Emma, a blond beauty, dreams of leaving her home in New Mexico and going to Hollywood in search of stardom. Then she meets Hollis, a screenwriter on location in the desert, and accepts his invitation to come to California. But she loses her virginity in a barely credible manner and becomes pregnant, cutting short her burgeoning movie career that kindly Hollis has been nursing along. Back in New Mexico with mother Greta and sister Opal, she gives birth to Lucy, marries someone else, and dies in her early 30s without sharing her past with her daughter. Which of course explains why Lucy has been unhappy, unfaithful in her marriage to academic Gordon, and not a good mother to daughter Laurie. A traffic accident, in which Lucy is badly injured and after which Gordon and Laurie abandon her, leads to the predictable catharsis. Lucy rallies, and, after finally learning the truth about Mom—and Dad—feels "able to live a real life" at last.

Shallow and schematic. Not Scofield's best.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060173425
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/1/1997
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 301
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.61 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Table of Contents

Emma Laura's Book 1938-1943 1
Lucy's Book 1965-1989 121
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