The story of Laurel McKelva Hand, a woman who returns to the south where her father is dying. After his death, she and her silly young stepmother go back to the small Mississippi town where she grew up. In her old house, Laurel comes to an understanding of the past, herself and her parents. The best part is how the writing puts you right in the story and makes you feel the emotions of the characters.
A speedy tale of a woman, Laurel, dealing with the death of her father and the aftermath he left behind by marrying a woman, Fay, the same age as his daughter. Fay is cursed with the always-frustrating combination of ignorance and pride, leaving the reader with a taste of disgust. The final scene is particularly powerful, as Fay spews some hurtful and personally-directed venom at Laurel.
The story of Laurel McKelva Hand, a young woman who has left the South, and returns, years later, to New Orleans, where her father is dying. After his death, she and her silly young stepmother go back still farther, to the small Mississippi town where she grew up. Alone in the old house, Laurel finally comes to an understanding of the past, herself, and her parents.
This slim, Pulitzer-prize winning novel is a gem. Our book group (which reads only prize winning novels) includes a number of Southern ladies, and the story resonated with many of them. I, a Northerner, was quite skeptical and began reading with an 'I don't like Southern women writers' attitude. The first section reaffirmed my skepticism, but as I made my way through sections two and three, my appreciation grew. By the time I finished, I realized what a remarkable piece of writing this is. I'd give it five stars save for the fact that several of the characters come across as a caricature of the type they represent, rather than real people.
Debra A. (editdebs) reviewed The Optimist's Daughter (Audio Cassette) (Abridged) on
I love this book. It is short, so sweet, and meaningful. It's one of those books that I've walked around with in my head for days after I finished reading it. It is a deceptively simple story of loss and love. Even weeks after I finished reading it, I keep thinking about it. Read this book.
Don't quite understand how this book won a Pulitzer prize... The thoughts, feelings and descriptions are all truncated and lacking any real depth, as are the characters. Totally don't get how this book got past a publisher, never mind the Pulitzer prize committee. And I write this review even as I have just relisted this book and hope someone is fool enough to take it off my hands...