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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 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.
About the Author
Anne George (c.____ - 2001) was the Agatha Award-winning author of the Southern Sisters mystery series which culminate in Murder Boogies with Elvis, publishing in August 2001. Like Patricia Anne, she was a happily married former school teacher living in Birmingham, Alabama. Ms. George was also a former Alabama State Poet and a regular contributor to literary publications. During her lifetime she was nominated for several awards, including the Pulitzer. Being a true lady of the Old South, her date of birth will forever be a mystery.
Read an Excerpt
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.
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.