Tuesday, August 10, 2010

6 days left to bid on a doubtlessly good book

SOUTH OF THE ANGELS by JESSAMYN WEST HB DJ pub hodder 1961 564 pp Light tearing& fading to dust cover very slight yellowing to blocked pages


—South of the angels is the story of energetic, forward-looking people; 0f" love and of hate, as these two powerful, conflicting and varied forces of human existence are brought into sharp focus in the lives of men and women.

Into the empty land of Southern California, during the early years of the first world war when America was still at peace, came the first settlers, seeking space and fertility into which to sink the roots of their new lives. They had bought their land; they had been promised sunshine, warmth, water. With the water, the Tract would blossom with orange and lemon groves, and a new pattern of life spread over the land that was so recently barren.

All sorts of people: the Lewis family, with Shel Lewis's determination to plant his orange groves on the promise of water that does not come; the newly converted Quaker preacher Raunce and his awkward, intelligent daughter; the Copes, mother and daughter caught in the complexities of first love; the Mexicans, Ros, Pete and Jafian, who see the gringos taking over what was once theirs but feel no bitterness; the rigid Cudlipps, bringing their colour prejudices from the South; the incorrigible ladies' man Tom Mount; Eunice who loves him in spite of everything, and Opal, who does not.

These people, men, women and children, flood over the Tract, and by the time we reach the end of their story, we have seen birth and death, the failure of one marriage and the triumph of others, a crooked man's downfall and the victory over adversity of an honourable man. We have seen boys and girls begin to embark confidently on adult life. And we have learned a great deal about human nature and human interdependence, for this novel illuminates -and enlarges, as • great fiction does, the world we ourselves know. Here is gusto, wit and wisdom.

"jessamyn west is an accomplished writer blessed with an uncommonly delicate ear for the English tongue and with a warm and understanding heart. Her skill as a story-teller is great. She is a serious artist who chooses to write about people with substantially more good in them than bad. And in writing about them she deliberately sets out to amuse and entertain her readers."

New York Times

"Conspicuously gifted with the power to convey her scene, and the rare, exact word with which to fix it in our mind's eye."

The Observer

"A refreshing sanity, an essential earthi-ness, a robust sense of humor; and because she is a born writer, and a good one, she illuminates even the most commonplace with her own particular magic." New York Herald Tribune Book Review


.. piet: if this were anything like a world where jewish assimilees had the upper hand over the rotten, insulated, thus pressurized and explosive core, instead of the other way around, i would own and comfortably accomodate readers of all of her books (and lots like it) in the best possible setting ...

by the way, just learned she was second cousin to Richard Nixon


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