- File Size: 752 KB
- Print Length: 334 pages
- Publisher: Sibley Oak Press (March 5, 2013)
- Publication Date: March 5, 2013
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00851C9N2
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,716,225 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Print List Price:||$16.00|
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That Was Tomorrow Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Though all Fairhopians today enjoy a mild, southern, small-town climate with an artsy cache blending smoothly into Wal-Mart convenience, only a handful of real locals are familiar with the carefully laid planks on which floats their culturally edgy paradise. Anyone who has ever called Fairhope "home" for longer than a weekend art show owes this book a careful read. A dreamlike yet familiar Fairhope is here for the taking.
THAT WAS TOMORROW drops itself squarely in the middle of Fairhope's golden era. It's the 1920's. Educational reformer Marietta Johnson has settled in the town and is using it as a launching point for a radical educational philosophy she calls "Organic Education": See the child as already complete, then emphasize their natural learning ability and artistic instincts. With her original thinking and her bright and charismatic personality, Ms. Johnson provides a gravitational center for Fairhope's universe. Artists and intellectuals from all over the continent are pulled into her orbit and into humid, fecund, fertile atmosphere that is Fairhope.
Via narrative fiction, Timbes lifts this vanished world from the mire of time and holds it up for us to inspect and experience. We enter via passenger ferries and dirt-road main streets. We walk through its leading hotels and community gathering points. We enter the classrooms and sit with the children as they are taught via the Organic Method. We are treated to an intimate and personal account of life as it existed nearly a century ago, in a place still accessible by car but almost impossible to find again in the mind.
This is Timbes' third book on Fairhope. She graduated from the Organic School. 40 years later she served as the curator for the Marietta Johnson Museum in Fairhope. She knows the material, and delivers it in a precise and careful prose uncommon in contemporary fiction. Her nuanced tone carries us easily backward to the charm and guileless rhythms of the 1920's. Because this is a historical novel her literary license comes with some restrictions, yet she seamlessly twines vintage Fairhope's better-known personages into her own creations allowing the reader to speculate beyond the range of straight fiction.
Although her descriptions of seemingly insignificant detail such as the layout of a cottage or the intricacies of a folk dance can seem overly worked, these details carry the real substance of her effort. It is through this reconstruction of the workaday rhythm and nature of early Fairhope that we find ourselves ultimately swimming far below the surface of the Fairhope we can drive through today. And when we come up for air, is it our eyes that are changed? Or has toney, tanned, flip-happy Fairhope once again become a haven for explosive thinkers and artists and bon vivants? Read, then decide. It's certainly nice to think so.
For anyone wanting a realistic portrayal of yesterday's sleepy south, a more informed connection to modern Fairhope, or a working reenactment of Marietta Johnson's Organic Education philosophy, Timbes' book is an easy "yes". She guides us into the cliffs and gullies, the dirt and the shine, the people and the place and the village on the bluff that was, Once Upon a Time, a utopia for the taking. Jump in. Mobile Bay hasn't felt this good in decades.
Rewritten from a review originally published in the Mobile Press-Register, 7/15/12
Fairhope, in southern Alabama, was conceived by a group of quirky, non-conformist, intellectual folks who hoped to change the world. In THAT WAS TOMORROW, the reputation of Fairhope's experimental organic school compels Amelia, a young teacher from Philadelphia, to travel to Alabama. Amelia meets her first Southerner in an early scene on the train. His remarks inform her that the Civil War was not so long ago, and has not been forgotten.
But Amelia is warmly welcomed by everyone in Fairhope. She is excited by the intellectual stimulation and camaraderie of this Utopian community. Can a place really be so ideal? She meets Max, an attractive drama teacher at the organic school, and soon falls into an affair. Women are treated as equals in this extraordinary place and the oddities of personality are tolerated, if not downright encouraged.
Amelia also encounters Cumbie, a rough handyman who gives her pause. When a child is mistakenly killed in a murderous act of revenge, the tragedy brings the town to its knees.
With intelligence and clarity, Mary Lois Timbes smoothly incorporates fiction and the history of a very real place. TOMORROW offers an enlightening peek into the past of an unusual town with far-reaching ideals. This is a book to be read at leisure, and savored, as there is much to digest.
SAILING THROUGH LIFE by Dawn McMichaelSailing Through Life
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