Born in 1929, Browning's childhood coincided with the Great Depression, and much of what he tells about his Culpeper, Virginia home communicates the ubiquitous poverty of the time. In addition, Affection and Estrangement: A Southern Family Memoir includes stories about relatives Browning remembers-some quite eccentric, as well as ancestors from two distinguished Virginia families, the Cockes and the Cabells. He also examines the impact of the oftentimes harsh and punitive Calvinist piety of the time, with its emphasis on human depravity.
Including sketches of more than twenty relatives and ancestors, Affection and Estrangement: A Southern Family Memoir shows how Browning's family shaped his emerging sense of self-from his mother's aristocratic heritage to his father's business-oriented, middle-class background. This memoir pays tribute to those people-ancestors, parents, relatives, teachers, clergymen, siblings, and friends-who contributed so much to the formation of Browning and his character.