Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summer Reading II, 2012: On Reading Mom's Novel

What can I say about being able to read the novel one's Mother wrote back in the 1940's? It was quite an experience.

I knew she wrote this novel, titled Shades of Yellow (referring to people of mixed-race ancestry). We ran across it (the typewritten manuscript) together while working in a closet many years ago.  I always said I would read it - someday.  Of course we know that someday can often take a long time coming.  Mom died in 2002 and I still hadn't gotten around to reading it.

But I hadn't forgotten it, and still vowed to read it - again, someday.  Well, last year after an aborted attempt at slogging through Julia Quinn's Mr Cavendish, I Presume, I figured the time was finally getting right, so I VOWED to read it THIS summer. I finally finished it last night. It really is a treasure to have this manuscript (it wasn't published) that she indeed wrote.  It's quite a window into the time (takes place in 1942) and the mores of her and her close contemporaries back then.

The most positive aspect of the writing is that Mom did know how to move the story along; I felt as though I were marching through it, not slogging through it as I tried with the aforementioned aborted reading.  She also can get you with the characters. It's also a very Christian novel I think it's a positive here).  Many characters are always prayng, and the main family members are definitely Episcopalians!

The two negative aspects: I didn't care for most of the male characters; I found them a blt condescending or something.  Kinda surprising for her, as Mom was surely no shrinking violet. Anyway, that made me glad she chose Dad. And there was a plot development I definitely DID NOT CARE FOR - one of the characters gets killed in a car crash.  I don't know, but the older I get, the less I like plot developments like that (well, whodunits excluded, I guess); i. e., I haven't watched Castle since they decided they would kill off a steady character (turned out to be the captain).

Her writing could also be a bit preachy at times.  But I think a good editor or mentor could guide her through rewriting a bit to make it stronger.  She already seems to know how to do a good story which is something I don't know if anyone can be "taught".

All in all, I am glad I finally read it, but maybe it's better waited.  I may have really taken her to task on that one plot development!  The fact that she actually did such a project, got it on paper is a cool thing as so many potential authors never finish that novel.  Well, she did and good for her!


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