Leslie Reese's Reviews > Desert Rose: The Life and Legacy of Coretta Scott King

Desert Rose by Edythe Scott Bagley
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Sep 04, 2012

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bookshelves: biography

For an enhanced version of this review posted to my blog, "folklore & literacy," click on this link http://folkloreandliteracy.com/2017/0...!

I was really excited about reading this book because when I was a child learning about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and I would see photographs and documentary footage that often showed his wife by his side, I always wondered about her. She wasn’t one of the men but she was always there, yet, no one ever seemed to make a big deal about her. When she died in 2006 or 2007 I remember feeling sad, and wanting the world to make the kind of mourning noise for her that I thought they would have had she been Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. or the Queen of England! Now, I hate to say how much this book disappoints me, especially since it was written by Coretta Scott King’s elder sister, Edythe, who actually passed before the book’s publication. It disappoints because it isn’t intimate. I can’t feel the soul of the woman. I can’t feel her interior spirit and intellect, although I can presume it because of the types of work and achievement she gave herself to. I can’t get a grip on her as a sister or a daughter, wife, or mother. The narrative is so politely written that there aren’t even any mouthwatering descriptions of food or travels abroad to evoke the energy of newness, refreshment, or adventure. The fact that Edythe and Coretta were raised to be independent, creative, and scholarly black women in the early part of the 20th century is taken for granted, but could have been contextualized in a more dynamic way to allow the reader to understand what life was like for women in general, and southern black women in particular during those times. This narrative tells but does not show the many tensions and complexities of Coretta Scott King’s life; and it reveals nothing of her personality. It feels as though it was written by someone who was gazing fondly but not thinking particularly deeply about events compiled in a family scrapbook, augmented by some random issues of JET magazine from the times. Coretta Scott King is richer in my imagination than she comes across in this book. What the book does successfully is provide a chronological foundation for understanding the people and events who were contemporaneous with Coretta Scott King’s life of performing musical concerts and engaging in social and political activism. Maybe the King family’s iconic over-exposure to the American and international public has made them guarded and unable to reveal more than a public persona.
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Reading Progress

September 4, 2012 – Started Reading
September 4, 2012 – Shelved
September 4, 2012 –
page 157
September 13, 2012 –
page 190
September 17, 2012 – Finished Reading
September 17, 2016 – Shelved as: biography

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Udeni (new)

Udeni What a shame that the author couldn't (or wouldn't) give us a richer picture of this iconic woman. I think you should offer to write a biography of Coretta Scott King that brings her to life. Now that's a biography that I would read!

Leslie Reese Udeni - what a kind thing to say....it embarrasses me, somewhat, but I will say "Thank You," instead.

message 3: by Udeni (new)

Udeni Don't be embarrassed! I think that you have passion for her story plus the writing talent to be able to pull off a biography that will be both readable and inspiring. Poets make the best writers, in my experience :-)

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