From Publishers Weekly
From the post–Civil War era to the Great Depression, this gently ambitious debut follows a prominent Alabama family through victory and loss, fortune and privation, birth and death. At the novel's heart is Regina Riant, the beloved daughter of larger-than-life Colonel Riant. As owner of the Mobile Chronicle, he teaches her magnanimity: "Having everything is... a great responsibility. We have to show God how grateful we are by sharing what we have, otherwise God or the robbers will take it away." Regina's four buffoonish brothers, however, see their inheritance less as an honor than as a right, and squander it on half-baked schemes. Charles Morrow, Regina's husband, is equally unfocused and lacking confidence, causing her great frustration: "Sleeping was heaven: being awake with him at times annoyed her." Even as her strong Catholic faith sometimes wavers, the one constant in Regina's life is her mostly colorblind relationship with maid Camilla. Scully's light touch, even when tackling the heaviest subjects, paints a sweeping yet subtle saga; her message of resilience is inspiring while eschewing melodrama. "Everything and everyone would fall in the end, and only in such leveling could one discover everything latent: courage, intelligence, heart—the formula for prevailing." This is an impressive historical novel by an author to watch.
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Imaginative and enchanting, incisive and engaging, Scully's debut novel is reminiscent of works by the giants of southern fiction. Indeed, the Riants--larger-than-life Colonel Riant, his wife, their four sons, and his daughter, Regina--are the type of doomed, guileless innocents one would expect to encounter in the works of Tennessee Williams rather than from a first-time novelist, yet Scully has admirably created a rich, classic tale of southern families and their inherent survival skills. From the early days of the twentieth century through the Great Depression and beyond, Regina Riant Morrow's life has been a series of triumphs and setbacks. Like that other great southern heroine, Scarlett O'Hara, Regina also endures great losses--her father, her first love, her first child, her husband, her family fortune--but somehow manages to carry on, guided by the wisdom of her servant, Camilla. A tried-and-true scenario, yes, but Scully's sumptuous rendition of life in the Deep South is richly evocative of a place and its people. Carol Haggas
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