Shirley Ann Grau is a major American author whose works are often set in New Orleans and Louisiana's Creole region. She often reflects the isolated bayous and their French-speaking residents, but her fiction is equally at home with the fiercely independent people of small Southern towns or the sophisticated life of the New Orleans' upper class. The Keepers of the House won her the Pulitzer Prize in 1965.
©1964 Shirley Ann Grau; (P)1996 Blackstone Audiobooks
"Shirley Ann Grau is one of those rare writers who create a world, draw the reader into it, and make him somehow happy there, no matter what goes on....One comes to the novel's end with a sense of loss, and leaves that world with reluctance." (Newsweek)
I'm working my way through Pulitzer Prize winners for fiction. The exceptional narrator contributes much to the enjoyment of this fascinating story of the deep south spanning three generations. The different voices were so distinct that there seemed to be more than one reader. Told from several characters' perspectives, the story unfolded seamlessly with an unexpected climax. This is one of the best audiobooks I've listened to (out of about 40). My dog appreciated it too, as I stretched out my listening time as long as possible on our walks.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
This book has been compared to "The Help" by other readers/listeners. There IS NO comparison. It is a well written story and I liked it just fine. There is no discrimination, no abuse of blacks, and I found that refreshing. Abigail grew up playing with and loving the children that her grandfather had with Margaret, a black woman that he lived with after his wife died. Not only did she love the three children, she loved Margaret. The story of Margaret is one of grace and kindness, and the selfless choices that she made for her three children out of love are the best parts of the book. William Howland, Abigail's grandfather, was a simple and good man, wealthy beyond anything that Abigail could have imagined. Overall, the book is low key. The narration is reflective, not passionate. And when it is all said and done, there's no revelation or tying up of loose ends at the conclusion of the book. The ending of a book is a big deal to me, and this one just didn't quite END, it just stopped.
This book was a little slow at first and, at times, my attention wandered during the lengthy descriptions of scenery. However, the story does draw you in. It is not formulaic or predictable. The characters are complex and mysterious. The end was a bit unsatisfying only because I really wanted to know more. Finally, the book is read really, really well.
I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?
This book has kept me thinking for three days now after finishing the story. What I'm thinking about is exactly how I feel about this book. And I'm just not sure. There were some parts of this book that were really quite amazing and worthwhile and yet overall I just couldn't warm to the book. As I write this review perhaps I'm figuring it out, the crux of it for me is the word warmth. I just couldn't warm to even one character, they were all wooden somehow. Although Ms. Grau gives the listener/reader several complex interesting characters who were in many ways well fleshed out, yet not one I can think of showed very much humanity or compassion, just no warmth. Grandfather William was distant, quiet, firm and efficient. The main character Abigail (William's granddaughter) is at times strong and yet submissive, angry and self serving; Abigail's mother is distant and depressed. Margaret (William's second partner, his first wife died early in their marriage)is the most interesting character; she is silent and strong yet she is very removed while always present. Abigail's husband John is just plainly a self serving ass. Then I ask myself is it essential for the characters in this book to have exhibited warmth? Of course the answer is no, not every character must be warm and fuzzy. However most or at least some people do show that they care for others especially within their family, so I guess I just couldn't totally buy it the way it was served up in this book. The narrator did a wonderful job narrating. So this one sure is an interesting mix.
It was a treat for the senses. An engrossing and artfully told story. The narrator perfectly conveyed the subtle nuances of the characters and situations. The writing is of a quality that is seldom seen in current fiction. Crisp efficient, very descriptive, and engaging. The story flows effortlessly drawing the listener back to another time and place.
Her ability to convey the tone and substance of the story was remarkable. Flawless performance.
Abigail, her strength and straightforward candor would be a breath of fresh air.
Eh....not really. The book moves VERY slow and then at the end when it starts to get interesting it seems as though the writer just wanted to finish the book and rushed through writing it. Probably could've taken the story farther at that point and left out most of the first half of the book.
Once at the end, the entire story made sense and turned out to be very good. The description of the scenery is so long that the effect on the character is lost and become very boring, especially on Margaret. After Margaret, the rest was interesting that I had wished the author had written a bit more of Margaret instead of ending her the first night she come to live with William Howland. There were certain instance where I did not understand Abigail's point of view. The explanations were brief and vague. I gave the book a five star because I thought the narrator had the perfect voice for this story.
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