Plain Seeing: A Novel

Plain Seeing: A Novel

by Sandra Jean Scofield
     
 

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At the heart of Plain Seeing is the myth of beautiful Emma Laura, whose Hollywood dreams are destroyed by the birth of a child. At 21, that child, Lucy, tells her lover Gordon: "I come with nothing, a motherless child."

25 years later, as Lucy recovers from a terrible injury that almost severed her foot, she finds the accident mirrored in her life.

Overview

At the heart of Plain Seeing is the myth of beautiful Emma Laura, whose Hollywood dreams are destroyed by the birth of a child. At 21, that child, Lucy, tells her lover Gordon: "I come with nothing, a motherless child."

25 years later, as Lucy recovers from a terrible injury that almost severed her foot, she finds the accident mirrored in her life. Gordon and their daughter Laurie want to leave; even her lover has betrayed her. In childlike pain, she flees to her Aunt Opal in Texas. There, a visit to a Depression-era photography exhibit launches her on a quest to understand her mother's young life. Unexpectedly, it leads her to the father she wasn't seeking. In Hollywood, where her mother might have been a star, she finally faces her perennial grief, and begins to live a true and present life.

Author Biography: Sandra Scofield's literary awards include the Texas Institute of Letters Fiction Award and the American Book Award and nominations for the National Book Award, the Oregon Book Award, and the First Fiction Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Ashland, OR.

Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
Quite original...[Scofield] shows an extraordinary understanding of the power of absence...Redolent of Mary Karr's memoir, The Liar's Club.
Boston Sunday Globe
Scofield's sense of history and of place is unfaltering, unflagging...She subtly combines humor and pathos in all her observation.
Detroit Free Press
Lushly described and poignantly rendered...a moving and accomplished tale.
Austin American Statesman
Scofield insightfully, and sometimes poignantly, explores a complex version of female desire and loss.
Oakley Hall
...full of family news, triumphs and calamities, love and death and sharply realized life. This is a very fine novel.
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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060929459
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/28/1998
Pages:
301
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.84(h) x 0.78(d)

What People are saying about this

Oakley Hall
...full of family news, triumphs and calamities, love and death and sharply realized life. This is a very fine novel.

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