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A Cure for Dreams: A Novel

A Cure for Dreams: A Novel

4.0 4
by Kaye Gibbons

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A story that traces the bonds between four generations of resourceful Southern women through stories passed from one generation to another.


A story that traces the bonds between four generations of resourceful Southern women through stories passed from one generation to another.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Further enchancing her reputation as a chronicler of small-town life in the South, Gibbons ( Ellen Foster ) limns an engaging portrait of a possessive mother and her obedient daughter as the foreground of a larger canvas depicting women's roles in a society bound by tradition, convention and poverty. Deliberately old-fashioned in prose style, down to the chapter headings reminiscent of 19th-century novels, this slim volume is narrated by Betty Randolph, who tells of her domineering mother's life: how she rejected her husband after Betty was born and was relieved to be left a young widow and the ``queen bee'' of the community; how mother and daughter became inseparable, until Betty was in her 20s and suddenly realized she was on her way to spinsterhood. The plot is a series of loosely connected vignettes, enlivened by Betty's tart comments and the pithy aphorisms of plain country folk (of an officious woman, Betty says, ``I`m sure when she died and entered heaven she asked to see the upstairs''). Gibbons conveys the atmosphere of the Depression and World War II with frequent comments about Presidents Hoover and FDR, and such period detail as the birth of the Dionne quintuplets. Though entertaining, the novel is short on suspense, however; one of the few instances of narrative tension turns on the question of why Betty's suitor has blue lips. (Mar.)
Library Journal
This episodic novel, Gibbons's third, is set during the Depression in back-country Virginia and Kentucky. In 19 vignettes, Betty Davies Randolph reveals her childhood and her mother's life along Milk Farm Road. Gibbons, winner of several literary awards for her first novel Ellen Foster ( LJ 4/15/87), has captured magnificently the dailiness and sense of community of rural life--from midwives and WPA ballads to suicides and men gone wild. Southern, and full of the folk wisdom of generations, Gibbons's voice reveals life's truths: ``Listen and hear what men call their wives. . . . It's easier without a mother at a borning. . . . The ears are the most important parts of a baby.'' Times are tough--Betty's father kills himself and is found upside down on his head in the river with ``rocks on either side, like bookends''--but the women are amazingly resilient; they help each other survive. As an old woman, Betty dies in ``her chair talking, chattering like a string-pull doll,'' but the reader is assured that the storytelling will go on through her daughter and ``the sounds of the women talking.'' Recommended.-- Doris Lynch, Oakland P.L . , Cal.

Product Details

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.36(w) x 7.25(h) x 0.75(d)
1120L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

Kaye Gibbons was born in Nash County, North Carolina and attended Rocky Mount Senior High School, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her first novel, Ellen Foster, was awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction of the American Academy and Institute of the Arts and Letters and a special citation from the Ernest Hemingway Foundation. She has been the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and was recently awarded the PEN/Revson Fellowship for A Cure for Dreams. She is writer-in-residence at the Library of North Carolina State University. She and her husband, Michael, and their three daughters Mary, Leslie and Louise, live in Raleigh.

Brief Biography

Raleigh, North Carolina, and New York, New York
Date of Birth:
May 5, 1960
Place of Birth:
Nash County, North Carolina
Attended North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1978-1983

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A Cure for Dreams 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the last of this author's work so far and I am waiting for more. The storytelling must go on. All of Ms Gibbons books have been delightful. I read them straight through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although this was not the best book by Gibbons, it is great. I love the short chapters and the unique form of writing. I could read her books for the rest of my life! Highly recommended.