- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 27, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345410602
- ISBN-13: 978-0345410603
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,165,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Family Linen Paperback – August 27, 1996
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"Brilliant, haunting, dark, joyous, remarkably compelling...immensely difficult to put down...a master storyteller."
THE VILLAGE VOICE
A childhood memory re-experienced, a funeral that brings about a family reunion, and the excavation of a swimming pool on the site of an old well, uncover family secrets and air the dirty linen in this behind-the-scenes look at life and family, memory and forgetfulness, anger and forgiveness in a small Southern town.
"Falls in line with the best of classical Southern fiction...but Ms. Smith's vision is her own and places her among the best of contemporary Southern writers."
THE ATLANTA CONSTITUTION
From the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
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The final chapter of the book is anticlimactic, reminding one of the "evil" Darth Vader in "Star Wars" posing for a heart-warming family photo. Perhaps the best explanation of such a (seemingly) happy ending, is that Lee Smith, writing with tongue firmly planted in cheek, ironically tells us that the denizens of Booker Creek, although attending a family reunion and a beautiful wedding, haven't really changed--and indeed won't change.
Another character says, "You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family." And another character muses about "this old gaggle of disparate family members teetering here on the brink of the past." This distressingly dysfunctional family is, in the philosopher's words, "human, all-too-human," and only an incurable optimist would be assured that, as Shakespeare put it, "all's well that ends well."
Anything by Lee Smith is worth reading; she is one of the best writers of the Southern genre. Her characters are well-drawn and, while not always commendable, are consistently fascinating and entertaining. I would have given "Family Linen" five stars, except for the disappointing concluding chapter. However, as Nietzsche once said, "There are no facts, only interpretations." If the last chapter is viewed as irony, rather than anticlimactic "fizzle," one might interpret the ending as sheer genius!
All in all, still a good read, for it is Lee Smith, and Lee Smith is always a good read.
We first meet Sybill, one of the family, who finally seeks help from a hypnotist for her dreadful recurring headaches. The hypnotist puts her under and BAM! Sybill flashes back to her childhood and remembers witnessing a horrible, awful, dreadful murder that involves her sweet, kind, proper, mother, Miss Elizabeth.
Sybill returns at once to her hometown of Booker Creek for answers. Unfotunatley, Miss Elizabeth is unconscious in the hospital and cannot answer any of her questions. But the story does not end there!!!!
Now we meet all of Sybill's family -- her sister Myrtle who has it all -- money, THE house, a doctor hubby, looks great, is the perfect hostess, has the perfect life or does she? Myrtle's husband, Dr. Don, who runs the entire show and loves his wife's family, perhaps a little too much -- and a cast of other brothers/sisters/nieces/nephews/cousins -- they are all unique and wonderful and FUN.
This is a book that I highly recommend. Lee Smith has the absolute best writing ability to weave, weave, weave, the story, the characters, the plot, and all the FUN into a great big satisfying book that is full of insights into life, laughs, and surprises.
Read this book. You won't be disappointed. Ms. Smith is one of THE BEST AUTHORS around these days! You can't go wrong!!!!!
Thanks -- Pam
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