The Stars Of The South

Overview

This sequel to Julian Green's epic novel of the ante-bellum South, The Distant Lands, opens with the last tense moments of peace that led up to the final confrontation and all-out war between the North and South. As one state after another secedes from the Union, the gracious-living aristocracy of the old South goes on dancing and feasting and intriguing among themselves as never before. Once again we meet the personages of The Distant Lands: the aunts and uncles and the cousins, the omniscient Charlie Jones, the...
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Overview

This sequel to Julian Green's epic novel of the ante-bellum South, The Distant Lands, opens with the last tense moments of peace that led up to the final confrontation and all-out war between the North and South. As one state after another secedes from the Union, the gracious-living aristocracy of the old South goes on dancing and feasting and intriguing among themselves as never before. Once again we meet the personages of The Distant Lands: the aunts and uncles and the cousins, the omniscient Charlie Jones, the sinister Miss Llewelyn and, above all, Elizabeth, the beautiful widowed Englishwoman, living with her little son in slightly reduced splendor in Savannah, Georgia. The picture which the nonagenarian Julian Green paints is a nostalgic, poetic and romantic one of a world doomed to extinction but still scintillating brightly, engrossed in its own courtly passions and genteel observances. This feast of story-telling is partly based upon reminiscences of the old South told to him by the author's own 'Southern belle' mother, with a historical background that is both authentic and enthralling.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In its historical sweep and unabashedly sentimental portrait of a doomed, vainglorious widow whose world unravels with the onset of the Civil War, this sprawling second installment in Green's Dixie Trilogy (after The Distant Lands) inevitably calls to mind Gone with the Wind. Green's is a much more claustrophobic and mannered saga than Margaret Mitchell's, but its languorous depiction of a dying Southern aristocracy does give rise to moments of high drama. Set mainly in Savannah between 1856 and 1861, it takes up the story of proud, contrary and mentally unbalanced Elizabeth Jones, transplanted as a teenager from England to the South, whose husband, Ned, and lover, Jonathan, killed one another in a duel in The Distant Lands. As the story opens, Elizabeth, visited by suitors in her isolated Savannah manse, lavishes her overweening attention on her small son, Charles-Edward, before jumping into a hasty marriage with her younger cousin, feckless Confederate cavalry officer Billy Hargrove. As neurotically fixated as any Tennessee Williams heroine, Elizabeth turns to laudanum as her marriage stagnates and imposes her fantasies on Charles-Edward, whom she alternately calls Jonathan and Ned. When Hargrove travels to his family's plantation in Haiti, his cowardice surfaces during a populist uprising; but he later distinguishes himself in the first bloody battles of the Civil War, which are rendered with compelling realism. Although the language is sometimes stilted, Green's portrayal of the antebellum South dining and dancing on the edge of the abyss is set against a vivid backdrop that includes the hanging of John Brown, Lincoln's election and the battle of Manassas. The novel succeeds as a time capsule of hothouse intrigue and political turmoil, combining historical fidelity and storytelling flair. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Margaret Mitchell meets Franois Mauriac and Albert Camus in this existential tale of languid passion and doomed love in Savannah, Georgia, on the eve of the Civil War. Young, beautiful, and restless, Elizabeth Escridge struggles with the ennui that has burdened her life after her lover and her husband killed each other in a duel. In addition, she and her son, Ned, named after her dead lover, must cope with reduced social circumstances as well as the gossip and disapproval of Savannah society. All looks bright when Confederate officer William Hargrove, Elizabeth's cousin and long-lost love, swoops into her life and marries her. But William's death early in the advancing military conflict destroys Elizabeth, and she is doomed to live out her days in a laudanum-filled world of romantic longings. Stilted prose like "She then had to make an effort to shake herself free of her daydreams and pick up once more the thread of the insignificant events that made up her life" and one-dimensional caricatures of Southern society deeply mar what is otherwise an affecting portrait of a world of lost hopes and unrealistic dreams. Recommended where Green's The Distant Lands (LJ 10/1/91), to which this a sequel, was popular.-Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Westerville P.L., Ohio
Kirkus Reviews
The second installment in one of the most deeply curious works of modern fiction: a romantic celebration of the South in the period leading up to the Civil War, by an acclaimed American writer who has spent most of his life living abroad.

Green, born in Paris in 1900, grew up listening to the tales of the Old South told by his mother, raised in Virginia. During his long and prolific career, he has published a number of powerful, somber novels, plays, and a series of acclaimed memoirs and diaries. But he never forgot his mother's stories of an elegant, untroubled life in the Old South. The first volume in the ongoing series, The Distant Lands (1991), was published in France in the 1980s and became a phenomenal bestseller. His protagonist, Elizabeth Escridge, is a beautiful, willful, deeply romantic Englishwoman. The story followed the adolescent Elizabeth's rather complex romantic entanglements, centered around a Georgia plantation, and culminating in a duel in which her former lover and her husband kill each other. Now, Green traces her still tempestuous life in the years leading up to the outbreak of war, as she attempts to conform to the intricacies of high-society life in Savannah, raise her son, unravel some family mysteries, and resist the romantic advances of various dashing gentlemen. She marries a cousin, only to lose him in the war's first major battle. Despite the overheated drama, this is no Gone With the Wind: Green can write, and he knows how to set a large, shrewdly detailed cast in motion. The gothic plot (of betrayals, frustrated loves, grim secrets) is lively and inventive. But this is a world without larger moral dimensions: Slavery is kept largely offstage, and Green, sadly, really does seem to believe, as the narrative notes, that the gentlemanly, put-upon South was merely "defending its lands" in a war that took 600,000 lives.

A troubling, oddly outdated work.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780714529851
  • Publisher: Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd
  • Publication date: 7/1/2000
  • Pages: 651
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Julian Green published over 70 books in France and was a member both of the Academie Francaise and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

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