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A Long and Happy Life: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, May 5, 2009
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Nothing could tear me from [discussing collections of short stories] save this lovely book, "A Long and Happy Life," by Reynolds Price -- and I cannot even begrudge the author his youth. Meticulously observed, beautifully told, it strikes too deep to fuss around with analysis. You can say only of it that it is indeed a lasting novel, a story of the South done with no violence -- you can say only, a lovely novel, with the firm brilliance of its writing to keep its loveliness from sticking to your fingers. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Just having read Mr. Price's excellent memoir ARDENT SPIRITS where he talks at length about writing this his first novel, I wanted to reread it to see if it holds up after these many years. It does. Mr. Price gets all the details just right: from cherry Jello to Kool-Ade to the local church's Amen corner to horehound candy to a punch board (something I had not thought about in more years than I care to remember). Men get their hair cut at home by family members; and the church, of course, is central to these characters' lives regardless of how they live when they are not within its doors: whether it is an emotional African American funeral for the young Mildred and friend of Rosacoke, who died in childbirth (the opening scene of the novel) or the closing Christmas pageant in the white Delight Church where Rosacoke plays the Virgin Mary and Wesley is a less-than-enthusiastic Wise Man. The last twenty or so pages that capture this event, complete with the Christmas carols that the pageant players sang, took me back to every similar Christmas in the Baptist Church I grew up in rural East Tennessee although the characters had different names in my mind's eye.Read more ›
Price was from the Piedmont region of North Carolina, which is where A LONG AND HAPPY LIFE is set. The time is the late 1950's. The central character is Rosacoke Mustian, who is in her early twenties, an age for marrying. The leading (in truth, for Rosacoke, the one and only) candidate is Wesley Beavers, with whom she has been entranced since she was fourteen. The novel begins with a brilliant scene where Rosacoke is on the back of Wesley's motorcycle as he passes a short funeral procession, with the pine box coffin in the back of a pick-up truck and "one black boy dressed in all he could borrow set up in a ladder-back chair with flowers banked round him and a foot on the box to steady it". The coffin holds Mildred, a young black woman who was a girlhood friend of Rosacoke's and who had died in childbirth, and Wesley is driving Rosacoke to the funeral service, where she will be the one person "representing the white friends". The next day Wesley will be discharged from the Navy and it is high time for Rosacoke and Wesley to decide whether or not they will try to make a long and happy life together. The novel covers the next half year while Rosacoke and Wesley circle round and round that issue.
It is a rural community of swimming holes, church picnics, horehound candy and jello desserts, birthing-at-home with a mid-wife, and Christmas pageants.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Why haven't I heard of this Southern author before? A friend who taught college-level English in Florida gave me this book. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Holly P.
A Long and Happy Life is not a happy book. It starts with a funeral and gets darker from there. But it is realistic, told beautifully, compassionately, and hopefully. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Caruso's Dad
Surely one of the greats! Rosacoke is a modern heroine. Ever female actress wanted to play her in film. Could never quite get the screenplay right. Read morePublished on April 17, 2014 by Howie
I was privileged to hear Reynolds Price speak about his book in the early '60's when I was studying at Duke. Read morePublished on March 4, 2014 by Bill Mathews
This Reynolds Price novel is as beautiful and moving as when it was first published over 50 years ago. A marvelous beginning to a long and very successful literary life.Published on February 10, 2014 by Richard R. Weidner
Rosacoke Mustian is growing up in the rural region of Eastern North Carolina. She has fantasized about Wesley Beavers for eight years, yet he only minimally regards her. Read morePublished on January 9, 2014 by Magnolia Rose
I was impressed with this male author's sympathy toward and understanding of his young female protagonist, who is in love with a handsome young man who seems incapable of the... Read morePublished on May 28, 2013 by Leslie W. O'Brien
This book haunted me. I was working on a short story and was recommended to check out A Long and Happy Life. As with all great literature, I inhaled it. Read morePublished on May 6, 2013 by A. Reed