John's Reviews > Kate Vaiden

Kate Vaiden by Reynolds Price
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's review
Feb 01, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, literature
Read in January, 2010

A winner of the National Bokk Critics Circle Award this is painfully obvious story of the title character, Kate Vaiden. Reynolds Price amongst his many academic accomplishments holds a named chair as a professor a Duke. My own digression here - his brief bio in the back of the book reads much more like a senior CV for someone applying for a prestigious position in order to inculcate the ignorant masses.
A well wrought story that is written by the protagonist as means of explanation to the son that she abandoned 40 years ago it traces the tragedy of the life of Kate Vaiden. Set in the rural hinterlands (i.e. read backwater small town) of North Carolina it gets going early with the double murder-suicide of her parents at age 11. Further hardships follow, many bittersweet. Throughout the novel Kate continues to struggle towards stability, only to erratically take flight without warning when it comes close. Ultimately there are as many warm hopeful aspects to this work as there are bitter loss.
I particularly was drawn to the countless imaginative (at least to a relatively urban Yankee) comparisons and similies, and Price has a writing style that is evocative and original.
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