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Homeplace (2003)

Homeplace (2003)
3.7 of 5 Votes: 5
006101141X (ISBN13: 9780061011412)
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Homeplace (2003)
Homeplace (2003)

About book: Homeplace is set in the fictional town of Lytton, Georgia, and hits on some very controversial subjects for Siddons. She goes back to the Civil Rights era where the main character Mike meets the wrath of her father when she skips school to attend a rally in Atlanta. This turning point in the novel becomes the pivoting event. Mike leaves home and attempts to find her way on her own, and she’s a successful journalist. But, as all things that are swept under carpets, the dust eventually rises and must be banished. Siddons still has the remarkable ability to use language in a way that loses me in the writing. I find myself settling in with the characters despite much of the predictability of the story. As Mike begins her first foray into the center of the Civil Rights Movment in Mississippi, Siddons describes the surroundings many of the white young college students encountered. “What they did encounter was a wet, relentless, juggernaut heat, a vast and feral army of mosquitoes, and empty, sleepy, one-gas-pump towns where they alit stickily from the buses long after dark and trudge wearily into identical rural Negro shanties at the end of dirt roads in cotton fields and pasture, to sleep on pallets and quilts in the endless heat, wash at hand umps, use privies, and eat greens and grits and pork gravy for days on end.” Whew—that’s all one sentence. Siddons' dramatic flair in her prose creates the sense of the long and oppressive sense of the experience by the use of a long and almost oppressive sentence. But once the reader allows the words to wash over and around, the experience of reading Siddons becomes a journey into the world of the South. Sometimes a harsh place to be; sometimes a fake place to be; but sometimes a heavenly place to be.I enjoyed the story for Siddons' ability to create a sense of poetry in her fiction although I expect more from her in the plot she contrives in Homeplace. All the bad guys are easy to spot even when disguised with a fancy house. And all the confused folks are similar to other characters in her other novels. Perhaps this is the reason I took a hiatus from reading her books several years back.

This book was such a disappointment. I really couldn't tell who we were supposed to be rooting for; the characters were all equally deplorable. *spoilers*. I find it hard to empathize with a main character who is so busy having an affair in Georgia that her twelve year old daughter (living with her irresponsible father in California) rarely crosses her mind. In fact, she only speaks to her once during her entire summer in Georgia. And I guess we are supposed to feel sorrow when the crotchety old bigot of a father dies?? The same one who has never met his previously mentioned 12 year old granddaughter because she is half Jewish? Apparently he is completely redeemed by leaving a few thousand dollars to a black boy who has been his indentured servant all his life and remembering his children in his will. I usually enjoy her over-dramatization of the South and the Low Country because she describes it in awe and reverence, but this book had too many badly behaving, spoiled brat characters for me to root for any of them. I will treat this as a one-time disappointment because Ms. Siddons is usually one of my guilty pleasures.
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One of Siddon's earlier books. Could have been much better if not for the ROMANCE NOVEL screaming out at us - ohmygoodness, it is so gross - and her distaste for the slightest amount of extra fat on anyone. I'm wondering if the author is or was anorexic? Her descriptions of the fat lady are horrid and mean, and even worse, most old people are "turkey necks," have "carved blue hair," and the like. Church is musty, old, and mostly irrelevant, unless one needs it for a funeral, of course. Then the old people and church people are suddenly acceptable.(Spoiler here . . . )While our heroine is criticizing her family, wallowing in self-absorption, having an affair with her married ex-boyfriend, and generally acting like a spoiled child, her pre-teen daughter is with her permissive father, seeking to snag a bit part in a porn movie. But first things first - daughter's issues must wait. Siddons ties it all up in the end, but this is not something she should be proud of. It could have been good.
Dick Edwards
The author mentions Yma Sumac on p. 45 (large print edition). I read this book after reading Peachtree Road. The prose is equally enjoyable, and the characters are described beautifully. The only thing that pushed Peachtree Road from a “5” to an “8” was my personal interest in the Buckhead locale. This book did not have that, and so I give it only a 5. The central theme of this book is the recovery of the love that Mike had for her father. After the despicable things that he had said to her, I thought she was wrong to ever have feelings for him again. The other “plot twist” (such as it was) was the fact that Bay (with whom she had been having an affair) turns out to be not such a sterling character. Her affections seem to be turning toward Sam, but who cares? That sort of sums up my opinion of the book: who cares? I stretch it a bit to give it a 5, based only on her skill in writing prose.
It seems that my admiration for Anne Rivers Siddons novels is waning. I adore Colony and Outer Banks, but something about her other novels is seriously irritating me. Homeplace started out as another such novel.Mike is a reporter who fled her father's home in Georgia after he cursed her out for attending a civil right rally. He had never loved her, or so she believed, because her mother died soon after giving birth and her father never forgave her the sin. He sister, Daisy, was the golden child, but it was her father's childhood home which meant more to him than anything else.Now, her father is dying and Daisy summons her home, after twenty year, one husband and one daughter, to care for the failing man as he fights a department of transportation edict that his homeplace is becoming a highway exit. Mike has lost her husband and then her daughter to California. She has lost her job to a young upstart and has no where to turn but home. Mike is rude, heartless, and self centered. She speaks with her daughter only once after she ran to daddy in California and fails to fight for her when the girl announces she is going to Mexico to make a movies. She is twelve. Mike takes up with her childhood sweetheart who is married with children.What bothers me most, though, is that Ms. Siddons seems to have a problem with people who are overweight. Her descriptions make each sound disgusting and deplorable. Obviously, she has never had a weight problem. Well, rather, it seems she does have a weight problem since she has a problem with people who are overweight. At every turn, she describes them as very nearly gross. Even Mike's own sister is repulsive to her. Yet another disappointing novel from Ms. Siddons. Best I stick with Colony, my favorite novel ever written.
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