From the Bookshelf of On the Southern Literary Trail

The Optimist's Daughter
Start date
August 1, 2012
Finish date
August 31, 2012
Eudora Welty

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The Optimist's Daughter: Eudora Welty's Celebration of Life and Memory

"But the guilt of outliving those you love is justly to be borne, she thought. Outliving is something we do to them. The fantasies of dying could be no stranger than the fantasies of living. Surviving is perhaps the strangest fantasy of them all."--Laurel McKelva Hand

It is bittersweet to write about this little gem. It comes with no frills, no literary allusions, no photographs.

My mother died on February 1, 2012. She gave me...more
You see this character more often in movies, or even in history or real life. Rarely in books, though, I've found. I'm talking about The Scene-Stealer.

It's not Judge McKelva, the self-proclaimed Optimist of the book's title. He's a widower, but now remarried. He gets bumped off early: some issue with his eye requires surgery and then his heart gives out unexpectedly during his recuperation in the hospital.

And it's not Judge McKelva's daughter, Laurel. She lost her husband in the War and grieves...more
The action in The Optimist’s Daughter is minimal and limited, but also fairly inconsequential. The novel’s path is through Laurel’s journey within herself, one that involves soul searching and coming to terms with death and grief. Laurel returns to New Orleans to care for her ailing father, but, upon returning, she has to deal with past childhood memories, former acquaintances, the grief of past and present losses, and one very antagonistic woman, Fay, her father’s new wife. Searching her soul t...more
I just finished reading this novel, so it may be too soon for a review. I'll just say that it's one worth reading, about memories and death and love and reconciliation. I think one secret of the novel is that Laurel, the protagonist, is so reserved in her reactions to what is happening that the reader is drawn in and called to react for her.

Birds abound in the novel, and this is one of my favorite images:

"From her place on the chaise longue by the window, she saw lightning flickering now in the...more
Sue Davis
Outsiders invaded her insulated life, ie Fay, but in the end laurel moves forward. Loaded with quirky characters.
Charles White
I really wish Laurel would have clocked Fay with the breadboard. Ha!
Michele Malmstrom
Mar 06, 2012 Michele Malmstrom marked it as to-read
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Aug 02, 2012 KayG marked it as to-read
Shelves: 4, southern
Apr 03, 2013 Stephanie marked it as to-read
Feb 26, 2014 Toni rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
Sep 25, 2007 Jeannie marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Jul 17, 2014 Joy marked it as to-read
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