Ket Lamb's Reviews > The Optimist's Daughter

The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty
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May 07, 2012

it was ok
Read in May, 2012

The Optimist's Daughter is a subtle, old-fashioned novel set in the South that explores social class, death, and values through the conflict between the middle-aged, widowed, well-bred daughter of a judge, Laurel, and her ignorant, red necked, younger stepmother, Fay. Once the judge dies under questionable circumstances, the old world - Laurel and her bridesmaids - try to fend off the encroaching new one - Fay, and her hayseed relatives. Yet, the past keeps rearing it's disturbing head. As Eudora Welty so beautifully puts it, "Memory returned like spring..." And, both Laurel and Fay need to deal with it.

Perhaps this eloquent novel would have grabbed me emotionally if I had read it when it was originally published in the 70s. Instead, it left me feeling like a distant (in all senses of the word) cousin with a ringside seat at a macabre funeral. While it transported me to New Orleans and Mississippi, it didn't touch me until Laurel stumbles upon the breadboard. The conversations this story provoked at our book club were more compelling than the novel itself. Optimistically, the writing was powerful enough to warrant the Pulitzer Prize.
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02/14/2016 marked as: read

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