Dick Edwards's Reviews > Peachtree Road
by Anne Rivers Siddons
by Anne Rivers Siddons
Dick Edwards's review
Jan 27, 11
Read in January, 2011
This book is largely set in Buckhead, where I used to live (1948-1956) and went to school (North Fulton HS 1948-1950). She defines (p.23) Buckhead as stretching from Peachtree Creek on the south to West Paces Ferry Road on the north, from Northside Drive on the west to Peachtree Road on the east. My sense was that it went further east than just Peachtree Road. She gives it an area of some 4 square miles. She mentions Crawford-Long Hospital, where my first child was born. In 1907 the first trolley line was laid down from downtown Atlanta to Buckhead. Jim Dickey wrote a poem about “The Buckhead Boys.” (p.32), and was supposedly one himself. Buckhead is called Buckhead because in 1838 a man named Hardy Ivy mounted the head of a buck on a tree over his tavern and crossroads store (p.34). E. Rivers School is first mentioned on page 57. Another link to my own childhood is the presence of polio, which kills Lucy’s little baby brother. The author says (p. 120) that in any family group there is a natural scapegoat. The narrator goes to NFHS (p. 142). The terms Pinks and Jells is discussed on p. 147, and the term Cocksman is used on p. 148. The author uses the term, Great American Nooky Quest, at the bottom of p. 157. The Varsity’s Flossie May is mentioned on p. 183 (I have heard him chant/sing the Varsity menu many times). The narrator graduated from Princeton in 1958 (p. 250). On p. 254 is the emotional high point (so far) of the book: Sarah says to Shep as she is boarding the plane from NY (where she had been visiting him) to Atlanta: Don’t come home. If you come home, it will be to her (meaning Lucy). The author misjudges Kennedy vs. Nixon debate on p. 274. At the top of p. 278, she refers to Army Rangers as “murderous peers.” The narrator’s mother is killed on a plane crash with a group of members of the Atlanta Art Association (p.397), who were touring the art galleries and museums of Europe. The plane crashed while taking off from Orly. This is the crash that killed the mother of my HS friend Ralph Barry (who’s picture is on p. G-37 of my book). Tragedies, misfortune, and early deaths strike the friends and relatives of the narrator (Shep Bondurant), seemingly far more than the average person. He tells his best friend and 1st cousin Lucy Bondurant to take the gun she is holding (and with which she shot her husband) and shoot herself – and she does. The ending of the book is written in such an obtuse (to me) manner, that I had trouble interpreting what it meant. Was he committing suicide, merely jumping into the Chattahoochee, or just having a dream or vision? Pat Stacy thinks he was definitely killing himself. I suspect that she is correct, especially considering the negativity and pessimism inherent in the entire book. This is mirrored in Shep’s sadness about the transformation of Atlanta from an idyllic, sleepy Southern town into a commercial big city. Ms. Siddons writes beautifully and with fine imagery in describing the personalities and psychologies of her characters. She makes a huge gaff (I didn’t write down the page #) in referring to the county as “North Fulton County,” unless of course it has been re-districted since I lived there. In giving this a rating, I have trouble separating out the personal interest I have in the specific locale of the book. Without that, I would probably only give it a 5, given the unremittingly joyless sadness inherent in the work. Since the rating is my own personal rating, I will give it an 8.
Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Peachtree Road.sign in »