- Hardcover: 306 pages
- Publisher: Fawcett; 1st edition (June 3, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0449910415
- ISBN-13: 978-0449910412
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,236,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mavis Hardcover – June 3, 1996
In this first novel, Brenda Marshall presents Mavis Schmidt Holmstead. The oldest of six daughters in a North Dakota farm family, she has been the real parental figure in the lives of her five younger siblings. Having sacrificed most of her young life to her sisters, she is forced to make an even bigger sacrifice in middle age when sister Irene is killed in a car accident caused by Irene's drunken husband Jack, who is murdered in turn. Mavis knows who the killer is but confesses to the crime. The aftermath of that act and its effect on the sisters she raised is the focus of Mavis.
From Publishers Weekly
Set in North Dakota farmland in 1990, Marshall's generous debut is practically a primer on the effects of birth order in molding character and relationships. Mavis Schmidt Holmstead, 60-year-old mother, widow and grandmother, has picked one hell of a time to throw a family reunion. Having just lied by matter-of-factly confessing to the murder of her brother-in-law-a drunk responsible for the death of her youngest sister, Irene, in a car accident a year earlier-and certain that she has breast cancer, Mavis gathers her extended clan around her. Present: scholarly Maxine; much-married and spoiled Judy; Janice (who was sleeping with and, in fact, killed the brother-in-law); and lesbian Isabelle, Irene's twin. They are all Mavis's sisters, though the youngest ones seem more like her children than her siblings. Men get short-sheeted here. Judy recalls: "I'd forgotten Dad wasn't always a bastard." Alcoholic men are condemned, while Isabelle's obvious substance abuse is taken in stride and even the good guys are, at best, lovingly obtuse. This all seems slightly unfair since the formidable Schmidt sisters, as a collective unit, can and do steamroll over just about every man in sight. Taken as a whole, however, this is an engaging work. In spite of the serious themes (alcoholism, murder, complicity in one's own physical abuse), the narrative is often quite breezy-a result of the sisterly dialogue between these very different women. Marshall gives language to many characters, eschewing the single-voiced approach typical of debut novelists. Taking risks, she succeeds with ease.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Thank you, Brenda!