Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It Wasn't All Dancing by Mary Ward Brown

Tina Whittle of the crime fiction drama novels "Darker Than Any Shadow" and "The Dangerous Edge of Things" by Poisoned Pen Press has issued a challenge and little fun in the blogging community. Write a blog about a favorite book.

Quite a challenge, how do you choose a favorite book when you are a big reader. I personally enjoy non-fiction as well as fiction. Of fiction, I have a fondness for the novella and short story. Partly because I have a hard time laying a book down once I start. When you think of Helen Hooven Santmyer's 1000 page plus novel, "And Ladies of the Club", you are talking about some late night hours and neglected housework. However, her book was well worth it.

So, drum roll please, the book I've chosen is "It Wasn't All Dancing" by Mary Ward Brown of Alabama. It is one of the few books I reread on occasion  Like most readers, I have stacks of books I plan to get to. What makes Mary Ward Brown's stories significant is they take everyday people and share a poignant aspect of their lives.

The title story is "It Wasn't All Dancing" tells of the dying days of a former socialite, debutante and her hired caregiver. Not all heroes do heroic things. Not all heroes get recognized. We are all blind to what we don't want to see at times. Seeing a point of view not expected is riveting.

Each story in the book seem like a photograph. It takes a quick glimpse into the characters thoughts and life. It is hard to imagine ordinary people having such interesting moments or life defining events but they do. Mary Ward Brown's stories are an honest look at the South and her people as they transition from Jim Crow and segregation into the New South. I recognize these folks.

All of these people who make up the day to day lives of people in the black belt of the South have a story deeper than than the dirt roads winding through the countryside. "The House That Asa Built" was comical as well as real in detailing the frustrations of a young wife with a husband who buys a television instead of a washing machine in the late 1950's.

On a deeper level, you will love the prose. Mary Ward Brown is truly a Southern writer and she serves up the fresh trajectory of language that you expect. In "The House That Asa Built" the comparison of two tow headed children's freshly washed hair blowing in the wind like dandelion puffs stands in my mind.

Mary Ward Brown has also written a book of short stories titled "Tongue of Flames". You will enjoy everyone. I did. You will appreciate all the people that Mary Ward Brown brought to life.

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