The Seasons: Death and Transfiguration

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Overview

   As a novelist concerned with issues of gender, social class, and ethnicity, Jo Sinclair has won coveted literary prizes and a devoted following. Now in this extraordinary memoir, she relates a tale as fascinating, and as moving, as any work of fiction. At the center of Sinclair's story is her relationship with Helen Buchman, a middle-class wife and mother with a passion for literature and gardening. The two women couldn't have been more different: Buchman, despite suffering from diabetes, was self-assured, cultured, stable. Sinclair, on the other hand, was a product of the Jewish ghetto, carrying a host of emotional and spiritual scars. Nevertheless, when Buchman invited the young woman into her home in the 1940s, the two developed an intense relationship. Buchman became both best friend and mentor, encouraging Sinclair's writing and passing along a sense of the spiritual nature of gardening. The book deals not only with these early formative years but also with Sinclair's struggle to accept her friend's death in 1963, her triumph over alcoholism, and her ultimate transfiguration as an accomplished author.

As a novelist concerned with women's issues, Sinclair has won coveted literary prizes and a devoted following. Now, in her extraordinary memoir, she relates a tale as fascinating and as moving as any work of fiction. At the center of her story is her relationship with Helen Buchman, a middle-class wife and mother with a passion for gardening who became her mentor. Photographs.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The opening section, ``Some Biographical Notes on the Author by the Author,'' gives the first taste of the self-conscious tone employed in this overwritten and unrevealing autobiography. Now in her late 70s, the author of The Changelings and other novels offers up a journal focusing on the later part of her life, particularly her self-doubt after the death of her mentor, Helen Buchman, a middle-class housewife and mother who took her in and encouraged her writing. The relationship between the two remains cloudy: the journal contains more information about Buchman's garden than about the women's emotional connection. Sinclair often touches on interesting issues but only in passing. She mentions that Buchman taught her the manners and niceties she hadn't known as a ``peasant'' in Cleveland's Jewish ghetto, then fails to illustrate that process. Only in the final pages of the book does she discuss her alcoholism and make a glancing reference to ``that suicide thing I went through.'' Sentence fragments punctuated by exclamatory comments do little to convey a sense of the literary life besides the cycle of work, rejection and acceptance that writing for publication entails. Sept.
Library Journal
Sinclair is the pseudonym of Ruth Seid, born in 1913 to Russian Jewish immigrant parents. The Seasons is the story of her friendship with Helen Buchman, who takes Ruth in, nurtures her, and encourages her writing during the 1940s and 1950s. When Helen dies in 1963, Ruth struggles to rebuild her life and her writing career. Most of this book takes the form of a journal, written as a sort of catharsis, which recounts daily events around the time of Helen's death. Ruth's intense need to write is vividly described, as well as her personal journey from the Jewish ghetto to middle-class life in the country outside Cleveland. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries.-- Gwen Gregory, U.S. Courts Lib., Phoenix
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558610576
  • Publisher: Feminist Press at CUNY, The
  • Publication date: 2/1/1993
  • Series: The Cross-Cultural Memoir Series Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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