From Publishers Weekly
Current interest in the recovery of non-canonical texts has left Newman's (1883-1928) two novels lingering hopefully on the edges of the Southern and feminist corpora for more than a decade. In complex stream-of-consciousness prose that gives a first-person perspective in a distanced third-person voice, Newman probes the culture of the Jazz Age's genteel Southern lady, a person who was not ``supposed to know she was a virgin until she had ceased to be one.'' The Hard-Boiled Virgin (1926), the more entertaining and adventurous work of the two, follows Katharine Faraday, youngest child in an upper-class Atlanta family, from her ugly-duckling youth through the years in which she is ``professionally engaged in looking for a husband'' until she emerges, against her upbringing, as a successful--and still single--playwright. References to menstruation, birth control and extramarital sex probably helped make this novel scandalous in its time, but contemporary readers are more likely to note incongruities in the central character (secondary characters rarely rise above the level of scenery) vis a vis her attachment to romantic love and repulsion of physical love. The even more plotless Dead Lovers Are Faithful Lovers (1928) explores a marriage as it is experienced by two women obsessed with the same man: Charlton Cunningham's wife, Evelyn, and his mistress, Isabel Ramsay. Evelyn is the quintessential matriarch-in-the-making: a woman of good family who possesses beauty, exquisite manners and a mind educated into calculating triviality. Charlton occupies the center of her universe, and Evelyn is devoted to seeming to be the perfect wife for a railroad executive. However, 12 years into his marriage, Charlton is having an affair with Isabel, a librarian, saying that he wishes Southerners ``would bind their's sic women's feet instead of their brains.'' Although Newman makes her points effectively, she does so by planting the reader squarely in the numbed and stifled minds of these two women, an experience to be endured only by the most determined--and probably academic--reader.
Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
These volumes were published in 1928 and 1926, respectively. The former tells the story of the possessive love of railroad executive Charlton Cunningham by both his wife, Evelyn, and his mistress, Isabel. The story is told through their dual perspectives. The latter volume is a semiautobiographical novel about Atlantan Katharine Faraday, who rejects the conventions of husband and children for a life of independence. Newman once stated she wrote the books to shock, which she certainly did-- Virgin was banned in Boston. For most library collections.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.