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Continuous Loss and Eternal Longing
By Quail Bell Editors
"Being smart was all right, but was it enough? A new world was coming, people said, and Mary Bet tried not to think of it with fear but with hope. A world in which the railroad was no longer king, a world where unmarried women weren't pitied and humored as eccentric aunties, a world of peace and electricity. But now there was a great war in Europe, and everyone prayed and hoped that it would end soon." -Chapter 21, 1916-1917
In rural North Carolina, the period between the Civil War and World War I was a time of waiting. For Mary Bet, the youngest of nine children and the main character in John Milliken Thompson's novel Love and Lament (Other Press), it is also a personal era marked by death after death. As various family members meet their fates, Mary Bet must grow up and decide her own fate as the one who lived. And as if grieving the loss of so many loved ones were not enough, Mary Bet has the burden of being an independent, free-thinking woman in a community that disapproves of just those qualities.
Love and Lament is a beautiful book of coping and almost love stories. It is a book of poetry written in prose. It is slow paced, literarily matched to the pacing of its setting. And, really, it's a book about everyday life in a recovering South.
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