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In the Hope of Rising Againby Helen Scully
Synopses & Reviews
The life of a Southern family from the age of Reconstruction through the Great Depression — a brilliant social novel in the tradition of Julia Glass and Alice Munro.
In the Hope of Rising Again, Helen Scully's elegant and accomplished first novel, is the story of the Riants and the Morrows — and the wealth of household help and extended family that make up their circle. As such it is history told through one family's fate: the story of the South as it rose slowly, unsteadily, from the ruins of the Civil War and stuttered into the twentieth century and the age of speculation and boom.
Regina Morrow is the center of this tale. The daughter of a Confederate veteran, Colonel Riant, a doting father and noble-minded autodidact, and the emotionally remote Mother Riant, Regina grows up in Mobile, Alabama, at the turn of the last century. Colonel Riant has amassed a fortune as a newspaperman and thus has control over much of Mobile; Mother Riant, meanwhile, has control over the household, ruling with an icy remove and an unyielding sense of propriety.
Regina's four brothers function with so little distinction that few can tell them apart; their recklessly self-regarding devotions extend only to personal grooming, profuse gambling, and simultaneously courting the same women.
An adored, favorite child molded by her father's beliefs, Regina breaks away from the Riant house and marries Charles Morrow, an eager yet fragile entrepreneur. It is a marriage beset from the start by Charles's instability and nearly undone by the death of a child. Regina must hold her own as her family meets financial ruin during the Depression, Mother Riant descends into deafness and senility, her brothers engage in increasingly mysterious habits, and the family struggles to reconcile itself with the Catholic faith painted thickly over its every act. Scully portrays her characters with the full weight of humanity, in sentences that are softly astonishing. Filled with incisive reflections on death, love, atonement, friendship, race, and, most of all, family, In the Hope of Rising Again is a stunning debut of a writer of great insight and imagination.
"From the post-Civil War era to the Great Depression, this gently ambitious debut follows a prominent Alabama family through victory and loss, fortune and privation, birth and death. At the novel's heart is Regina Riant, the beloved daughter of larger-than-life Colonel Riant. As owner of the Mobile Chronicle, he teaches her magnanimity: 'Having everything is...a great responsibility. We have to show God how grateful we are by sharing what we have, otherwise God or the robbers will take it away.' Regina's four buffoonish brothers, however, see their inheritance less as an honor than as a right, and squander it on half-baked schemes. Charles Morrow, Regina's husband, is equally unfocused and lacking confidence, causing her great frustration: 'Sleeping was heaven: being awake with him at times annoyed her.' Even as her strong Catholic faith sometimes wavers, the one constant in Regina's life is her mostly colorblind relationship with maid Camilla. Scully's light touch, even when tackling the heaviest subjects, paints a sweeping yet subtle saga; her message of resilience is inspiring while eschewing melodrama. 'Everything and everyone would fall in the end, and only in such leveling could one discover everything latent: courage, intelligence, heart — the formula for prevailing.' This is an impressive historical novel by an author to watch. Agent, Jim Rutman. 7-city author tour. (July 27)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"In the Hope of Rising Again is surprising and captivating, even if its final message is simply: 'As long as time moves forward, things are bound to change.'" Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"Improbable plot makes for a disappointing debut....Little connects, and the pretentious prose is as enervating as the climate." Kirkus Reviews
"Imaginative and enchanting, incisive and engaging, Scully's debut novel is reminiscent of works by the giants of Southern fiction." Booklist
"Helen Scully's debut novel is a treasure. She profoundly understands the delicately strange workings of family and she articulates that understanding in lovely, pitch-perfect prose. This is a new voice among us that needs to be widely heard." Robert Olen Butler, author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
Filled with reflections on death, love, atonement, friendship, and race, Scully's elegant first novel is history told through one family's fate: the story of the South as it rises slowly from the ruins of the Civil War and stutters into the 20th century.
About the Author
Helen Scully was born in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1977 and attended Brown University. She worked in publishing in New York City before moving to Barcelona in 2001, where she wrote art columns for the magazine Barcelona Metropolitan.
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