Amanda's Reviews > Love in a Dry Season

Love in a Dry Season by Shelby Foote
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Mar 22, 14

bookshelves: book-club-made-me-do-it, blog

I read this book under duress: it was the monthly selection for my local book club and I did not look forward to the experience. The back of the novel compares Shelby Foote to William Faulkner, which immediately inspired within me the following thought: "Oh, crap." For I hates me some Faulkner. However, I've come to realize that, more often than not, a novel being described as "Faulknerian" is really just shorthand for the following: Southern; quirky, dark characters with unhealthy libertine appetites; and a tragic ending--and these are all things with which I'm okay. It doesn't always mean a rampant disregard for punctuation or that a boy falls in love with a cow. Foote's novel has a somewhat stock plot in Southern literature: Yankee comes to the South, tries to make inroads to the gentility and old money, and is destroyed in the process. However, it's the dysfunctional and well drawn characters that make the novel such an enjoyable read.

Set in the 1920's, the novel has as its setting a South that is still torn between the traditions of the past and the modernization of the future. This is represented by the two women of the novel: Amy Carruthers, symbolic of the new money of industry and the loosening of Bible Belt morals, and Amanda Barcroft, symbolic of the straight-laced world of old money and respectability. Both women are disconnected from the "Old Miss" of Southern myth and lack a defined role in society. Harley Drew, a Northern banker who longs to live the life of high society, becomes involved with both women. Throw in Jeff, a blind voyeur ("For what could be more pitiful than a voyeur in the dark?") and Amy's violently jealous husband, and it's just a matter of time before the crap hits the fan with particularly cringe-worthy and entertaining results.

Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder
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03/31/2009 page 25
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Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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message 1: by James (new)

James Thane Sometimes those books your book club makes you read can surprise you!


Amanda James wrote: "Sometimes those books your book club makes you read can surprise you!"

And sometimes it's in a pleasant way. Alas, that has not always been the experience.


message 3: by James (new)

James Thane I know what you mean. One of my clubs makes contantly good choices and I am almost never disappointed. I'm in another, though, where about half the time it seems like I wind up reading books I would have never chosen myself.


message 4: by Jason (new)

Jason Koivu I love Faulkner, but I also love that you hate Faulkner, because I like when people give him a go, come what may opinion-wise. It's totally understandable to hate on his style. Yes, your opinion is false because it's not my own, but don't let that bother you! :)


message 5: by Michael (new)

Michael Solid review! I tend to forget how the life Foote breathes into his narrative in his Civil War history books arises from his skills as a novelist.

Doesn't your name Amanda evoke your words of "symbolic of the straight-laced world of old money and respectability"? :-)


Amanda Jason wrote: "I love Faulkner, but I also love that you hate Faulkner, because I like when people give him a go, come what may opinion-wise. It's totally understandable to hate on his style. Yes, your opinion is..."

I feel the same way about Hemingway. In my eyes, the man can do no wrong, but that doesn't mean that I don't get a chuckle out of it when someone else calls him out!


Amanda Michael wrote: "Doesn't your name Amanda evoke your words of "symbolic of the straight-laced world of old money and respectability"? :-)"

Ah, yes, indeed it does. I think I shall reflect upon that today as I sip mint juleps from my front porch before I begin making my round of social calls. Now, where did I leave my calling cards? :)

I honestly didn't know that Foote had a prior incarnation as a novelist and was very pleasantly surprised. I haven't read any of his non-fiction, but can certainly see where his experience as a novelist would help him transcend the dry narratives of which some historians are guilty. I love reading non-fiction that becomes more than a recitation of facts and dates, so perhaps I should look into his other works.


Kitsana Dounglomchan I enjoyed the review, but there is one problem with it. You wrote, "Amy Barcroft." Her last name is Amy Carruthers. I normally wouldn't say anything, but anyone reading the review would be a little confused--they would think they were sisters.

Other than that nice writeup!


Amanda Kitsana wrote: "I enjoyed the review, but there is one problem with it. You wrote, "Amy Barcroft." Her last name is Amy Carruthers. I normally wouldn't say anything, but anyone reading the review would be a lit..."

Thank you for the compliment and for catching the error! The names of Amanda and Amy were so similar that I apparently got my wires crossed.


message 10: by J.P. (new)

J.P. If you're at all interested in the Civil War his trilogy is a must. I've found that most historians tend to write dry prose. He also authored a novel about the battle of Shiloh which was pretty good.


message 11: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Peto Amanda wrote: "It doesn't always mean a rampant disregard for punctuation or that a boy falls in love with a cow."

At least a cow is more original than a sheep.


message 12: by Stephanie (new) - added it

Stephanie I'm a little behind on my Faulkner... in which novel was some dude in love with a cow? I need to steer clear of that one... (ha ha)


Amanda Stephanie wrote: "I'm a little behind on my Faulkner... in which novel was some dude in love with a cow? I need to steer clear of that one... (ha ha)"

I don't remember which, but I know it's one of the novels in the Snopes trilogy.


Amanda J.P. wrote: "If you're at all interested in the Civil War his trilogy is a must. I've found that most historians tend to write dry prose. He also authored a novel about the battle of Shiloh which was pretty good."

That's good to know--I may give those a try sometime.


Amanda Jonathan wrote: "Amanda wrote: "It doesn't always mean a rampant disregard for punctuation or that a boy falls in love with a cow."

At least a cow is more original than a sheep."


I will grant you that. The sheep is certainly the most defiled animal in the barnyard. Poor buggered bugger.


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