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Peachtree Road Paperback – March 18, 2008
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Headstrong, independent, and devastatingly beautiful Lucy Bondurant Chastain Venable will never become the demure Southern lady her family requiresâwhile her older cousin, Sheppard Gibbs Bondurant III, is too shy and bookish, a far cry from the suave, gregarious Southern gentleman he's expected to be. In the Bondurants' sprawling home on Atlanta's Peachtree Road, these two will be united by a fierce tainted loveâand torn apart by a smoldering rage fanned by the cruelty of years and the unbending demands of privilege.
A masterful tale of love, hate, and rebellion set in an elite world of class and wealth, New York Times bestselling author Anne Rivers Siddons's Peachtree Road is the unforgettable story of the turbulent growth of a great Southern city and of two people cursed by blood and birth.
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In the opulence of aristocratic, pre-civil rights Atlanta, when the city was but a Southern town divided by race and class, partitioned into those who live in mansions and those who serve within, Shep Bondurant is an only child rattling around his family mansion on Peachtree Road. An unexpected knock on the front door sets the course of his life in motion, when his parents unwittingly take in a poor relation and her two small children on sufferance. Thus the stage is set when Shep, a sensitive, lonely boy, has his cloistered life blown open up by the entrance of his cousin, Lucy Bondurant, who is damaged and captivatingly feral as an alley cat. The two form an immediate bond that deepens as the pair mature, but it is its repercussions that play throughout this episodic story, wreaking havoc beneath the surface of a setting where all that glitters is not gold. "Peachtree Road" unapologetically captures a way of life in an era long gone by. It is populated by emblematic, supportive characters, and weaves and dodges as it finds its footing in an arc spanning fifty years in the turbulent, most pivotal times of the American South. It is a human drama uninfluenced by privilege, the kind that reminds us all that there is no escaping life's disillusioning, difining sorrows, nor their lasting effects. Authentically and accurately told, "Peachtree Road" reaches into the bone marrow and leaves its handprint; it is an epic Southern saga for the ages and one not to be missed.
There can be no doubt the era described here was quite a time to be alive and be a Buckhead girl or boy (a Pink or Jell). I don't want to give away the plotline, and some can be read in other reviews, but just want to comment on the depth and breadth of the writing and book itself. I was astounded by some of the things described between the families and cousins and the bonds of the children who became the young people and then adults. The book centered around one man and his relationships -- with his family and those external to his family. The scope of understanding of the era and the people was exquisitely documented. While I wanted it to end -- it was very long -- I also didn't want it to end.
Ms. Siddons' writing is awesome; I've read about four or five of her books. While my favorites are Downtown and Colony, I know Peachtree Road will stay with me for some time ... And I look forward to reading some books by this author.
The story was long, but it was vivid. Shep's entire life was overwhelmed by his cousin Lucy's eccentricities. He dragged into a codependent relationship, always protecting, excusing, and picking Lucy up whenever she failed. The problem was her failures grew deeper and darker until the shocking end.
The story starts with Lucy's funeral, but it goes back to the beginning when Shep first meets her as a child. This book almost begs to be read twice, because only then can you understand, knowing the ending, all of the pitfalls that led to her sad demise. Colorful language and vivid descriptions coupled with powerful drama makes for an American classic.
The ending was very abrupt. But perhaps it is for the better. Sarah Cameron Gentry, a slice of normality, is there to mark his trail and offer Shep a chance to actually live a real life free from the Lucy-ness that enslaved him.