This One and Magic Life: A Novel of a Southern Family

This One and Magic Life: A Novel of a Southern Family

by Anne Carroll George
     
 

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A dark shadow envelops the grand old homestead overlooking Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, as a family gathers to mourn the untimely death of the remarkable woman who lived there. Artie Sullivan: world-famous artist, beloved daughter, sister and aunt, her powerful presence still felt even in death; her last request shattering convention and causing painful… See more details below

Overview

A dark shadow envelops the grand old homestead overlooking Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, as a family gathers to mourn the untimely death of the remarkable woman who lived there. Artie Sullivan: world-famous artist, beloved daughter, sister and aunt, her powerful presence still felt even in death; her last request shattering convention and causing painful discord among those who loved her. Bound by blood, marriage, illicit alliances, and a terrible secret still buried, each must deal with bittersweet memories, and words left unspoken. Arties's younger brother Hektor is devastated by the death of his sister, but it is Donnie, Artie's twin, who feels he has lost a part of his soul, while his wife Mariel has lost a rival. Their daughter Dolly, who at twenty-seven is divorced form a man she still loves, is engulfed by huge sorrows of her own, and has inherited the house filled with ghosts of the past.

Yet in the often mysterious land of the deep South, where love and hatred run deep and lose, and dissension often simmers just beneath the surface, Artie's passing has touched many others as well, and brings cousins, servants, and neighbors to a place where artificial boundaries vanish. And in this unforgettable almost-forbidden place of pain and love, loss and passion, each of the Sullivans will discover truths long buried in silence, in taboos, and in the heart.

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Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
Evocative, often lyrical, and some of the shorter chapters read almost like prose poems...Gentle, bittersweet.
Houston Chronicle
A novel about a dysfuntional Southern family such Southern opuses as the The Prince of Tides and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Award-winning author of the Southern Sisters Mysteries (Murder Shoots the Bull, etc.) and former Alabama State Poet, George proves she can smoothly shift genres in this silky and passionate literary novel. Sullivan family members are returning to their sleepy Harlow, Ala., hometown to mourn the death of 58-year-old Artie (Artemis) Sullivan, a spunky and talented painter. Her twin brother, Donnie (Adonis), and younger sibling, Hektor, along with Donnie's wife, Mariel, and their daughter, Dolly, learn more than they expected. Artie's death has her loved ones ransacking their memories to hold the truths, half-truths and outright lies of their lives up to the light. Upset by Artie's wish to be cremated, Mariel produces a fake funeral to keep up appearances, while she examines her jealousy of Artie's intense bond with Donnie and Dolly. Donnie and Hektor unearth painful memories about their parents' early deaths and their mother's mental instability, seductive beauty and affair with neighbor Zeke Pardue. They also reveal a dark, decades-old family secret that only Artie's death could bring to the surface. The narrative can be confusing as it haphazardly switches points of view: some chapters are in the third person, others are written in the voices of various characters. But perhaps the polyvocal approach is an adequate device to explain the myriad entanglements and reveal the harbored secrets of this family. Sad moments include a father who accidentally kills his baby by leaving her out in the hot sun while he passes out drunk; a more subtle passage features Artemis making love with her cousin Bo. Drawing on her poetic roots, George's assured, soft Southern prose is full of symbolism and lyrical phrases, with much stargazing, Greek mythology and rising and setting suns to infuse the homey story with a mystical aura. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
A poet who has been nominated for a Pulitzer and the Agatha Award-winning author of the "Southern Sisters" mystery novels, George spins the tale of a Southern family who gather at the old homestead on Mobile Bay, finally united after a member's death. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781585474332
Publisher:
Center Point Large Print
Publication date:
06/28/2004
Edition description:
Large Print Edition
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.96(w) x 8.74(h) x 1.03(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Artie

The Bay. It draws her these last few nights of her dying. She rises from her bed that has been placed downstairs, and, careful not to wake Mrs. Randolph, opens the front door and steps onto the porch.

She is weak, but the pain is distant, like a thunderstorm held at the horizon. She crosses the yard slowly and rests at the top of the steps that lead to the beach. The air is warm, moist, and still. She feels it settling around her. Then slowly she begins her descent. Sea oats brush against her hands as she clasps the railing.

She pulls off her nightgown, folds it on the last step, and crosses the narrow beach to the water. The sand is cool to her bare feet, but the water is warm and quiet as bathwater. She walks into it and sits down, then lies back, one arm beneath her head.

The moon is a cup spilling out stars. Was it Papa who had said that once? Or had she read it? It doesn't matter. She sees that it is true. Stars drop from the sky, burning, into the bay.

She could sleep here like a baby in its sea of amniotic fluid. Sometimes she thinks she remembers what that was like, floating with Donnie in Sarah's belly.

Sarah.

Artie closes her eyes and sees them all: Donnie, her other half, Carl, her husband, Bo, her love, Dolly, child of her heart, Hektor, Zeke Pardue, Papa, Mama.

Warp and woof of her life. But, on these last few nights of her dying, it is Sarah, her mother, that Artie longs for.

When she sits up, water pools in the bony conclaves of her body. She holds her palms together, fills them with water, and, bending, pours the water slowly over herhead.

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