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Comment: Pages and Spine Intact, Former Library Book May Contain Library Markings
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Tokens of Affection: The Letters of a Planter's Daughter in the Old South (Southern Voices from the Past: Women's Letters, Diaries, and Writings Ser.) Hardcover – April 1, 1996

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Chatty, thoughtful, and often charming . . . The richness of Maria's letters is enhanced by Bleser's careful editing. Instead of a lengthy biographical introduction, Bleser provides running headings to the letters detailing movements of key family members, identifying important characters, and offering other information designed to help the reader understand them. Bleser is thoroughly familiar with Maria Bryan's social milieu and shares her knowledge fully yet unobtrusively.

(Journal of American History)

From the Back Cover

This collection comprises all of the known letters written by Maria Bryan (1803-44) of Mt. Zion, Georgia, to her sister Julia Bryan Cumming of Augusta. Spanning a period from the mid-1820s to the mid-1840s, the letters relate firsthand the daily affairs and concerns of a planter's daughter on a moderately successful plantation in Hancock County, the heart of what was then the greatest cotton growing region in the world. A refined and remarkably well-educated woman, Maria Bryan began corresponding with her sister when she was sixteen years old. As Carol Bleser points out in her introduction, Bryan travels, reads the popular books of the day, entertains visitors, and makes social calls. At the same time, however, notes Bleser, Bryan's letters belie popular notions about the privileged lives of "typical" planters' daughters in the antebellum South, for she also works at housekeeping, tends the sick at home and in the neighborhood, makes clothes for the family's slaves, and tutors younger siblings. Bryan's letters keep her sister abreast of local news and gossip (a preacher who can no longer hide that he is suffering from a venereal disease) and family rifts and reconciliations (a brother's apparently severe depression and consequent aimlessness in life and career). They also contain a number of references to the family's slaves. In one letter only, however, did she reveal any feelings about the institution itself. Writing in January 1827 that their overseer had punished her personal slave, Jenny, for not meeting her quota of spinning, Bryan told her sister, "It would have distressed you to see her face bloody and swelled. Oh how great an evil is slavery".
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Product Details

  • Series: Southern Voices from the Past: Women's Letters, Diaries, and Writings Ser.
  • Hardcover: 444 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press; First Edition edition (April 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820317276
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820317274
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,283,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book because Maria Bryan was a friend of my ancestor and wrote of her in several letters. This book is very well written from preface explaining how these letters were discovered, the effort put into transcribing and publishing them to identifying the people named and the history of the area they lived in. You don't have to have a personal connection to Mt Zion (Hancock County) Georgia to enjoy this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Those who are disappointed by the dregs of antebellum women's diaries predominating in publishing today will find plenty to make them happy here. This book is chatty, gossipy, quite frank and revealing, yet informative; in all, a true window into the lives of two sisters. I recommend it highly as a read, however; as a $45 purchase...go see if the library has it first. -Marianna
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