This rambling, uneven saga of two generations of Texas women begins in 1939 when widowed Eudora Yancey (``Baby'') moves back to Houston with her two young daughters to begin a new life in a home rented for her by brother Oscar, a busy entrepreneur. Baby belongs to a vigorous and unconventional family, but her lifestyle honors the customs of the times. She is obedient to her brother, who gives her generous financial support``Pleasing Oscar is how I make my living,'' she says. Her clever, feisty daughters, Hallie and Mary Cowan, opt for independence and their own way of life, a choice that exacerbates their ambivalent relationship with their mother. The lives of the prospering Yanceys (Oscar becomes a cattleman, Hallie a shrewd investor) are closely tied to the thriving city of Houston, which, in the 15 years covered by the book, changes from a sleepy Southern town into an energetic metropolis. Arnold's portrait of families in transition, of love and friendship between women, is both vivid and touching, but her pace is too leisurely. The novel was completed shortly before the author's death in 1982. (April)
Baby, the youngest daughter in a wealthy Southern family, has returned to Houston as a young widow with her two teenage daughters. The novel moves in fits and starts through the rest of her life. The main action takes place from the 1940s through the early 60s. Rather than a chronological narrative, the story, as told by Baby, is a series of disjointed vignettes. Recurrent themes are Baby's strong attachment to her daughters, Hallie and Mary Cowan, and to the city of Houston. Although there is power and skill in the writing, the novel is so idiosyncratic in its construction that it is difficult to penetrate. Arnold, author of Sister Gin and founder of the feminist press Daughters, Inc., completed this novel shortly before her death in 1982. For large collections or where there is particular interest in feminist or Southern fiction. Janet Boyarin Blundell, M.L.S., Brookdale Coll., Lincroft, N.J.