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This One And Magic Life: A Novel Of A Southern Family (2001)

This One and Magic Life: A Novel of a Southern Family (2001)
3.77 of 5 Votes: 3
038079540X (ISBN13: 9780380795406)
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This One And Magic Life: A Novel Of A...
This One And Magic Life: A Novel Of A Southern Family (2001)

About book: I knew Anne George well. We were in the Alabama State Poetry Society together when she was elected Poet of the Year. I was fortunate to have some of my poetry published by her Druid Press' Oktoberfest edition.I've sat with her in her kitchen and enjoyed her cooking. She was a wonderful woman, a gifted writer and a wonderful poet. When I posted my review of "This One And Magic Life," she said I was the only person to comment on the leitmotif of rebirth. Following is my review from several years ago.I first became familiar with Anne's work in her poetry. For those who love her books; seek out her poetry, too. It,too, is filled with the magic of "common" things made special."Magic Life" is her poetry and her prose entwined. She uses the quintessential Southern gathering,the death and funeral of a relative, as her backdrop. She then opens the memories and lives of the participants, showing how past and present are bound,inextricably,together.The characters are familiar people to many of us, especially those of us who are Southerners. We almost all have relatives that mirror the attractive as well as the unattractive attributes of the people we meet at family's gathering after Artie's Death.I have yet to read a review that mentions what rang as such a powerful theme to me: the continuity of souls... of rebirth. Anne has subtly interwoven the idea of renewal into the story of a funeral. The only mysteries in this book are those that are deep in the hearts of all mankind. Anne presents these in an accessible manner.She had a genius for such things.Readers are lucky to experience the fun of her wit and sense of hilarity in the Southern Sisters novels and the deep beauty her soul in "Magic Life."

This is the story of a not necessarily typical Southern family. Possibly one of the best examples of Southern Lit I've come across in a long time. Ms. George creates an ensemble of memorable characters. Sarah and Thomas, the first generation of Sullivans in Harlowe, Alabama. Artie, Donnie, and Hektor, their children, who share a horrible secret. Mariel, Donnie's wife, who feels that Artie "stole" her daughter, Dolly. The story opens with the last moments of Artie's life and unfolds after her death. Emotions are stirred when the lawyer reveals Artie's last request. She wants to be cremated. Her family divides on the subject, as they are Catholic. Each of the second generation deal with Artie's death through their own lens. Donnie honors her last request and has her cremated in Birmingham. Mariel fakes the funeral with a closed casket. Hektor has his own private funeral with some of Artie's ashes and a questionable priest he drags out of the swamps of Mississippi.As with most families, there are triumphs, tragedies, misunderstandings, and varying degrees of dysfunction. Through flashbacks and dialogue, Ms. George reveals slowly and precisely the events and relationships that create dysfunction in this family. The roots of jealousy and misunderstanding which began with Sarah and Thomas are revealed as each character examines their relationship with the deceased. Perhaps, the character that grows the most throughout the experience is the sister-in-law, Mariel, as she redefines and rebuilds her relationship with her daughter.I would recommend this to anyone who loves Southern Literature.
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I was quite surprised how often this novel really touched a cord while I was reading it. Very different from her light "Southern Sisters" mysteries. The characters were well drawn with depth and color, and the intricacies of family life well intimated. At one point George alludes to the fact that we never really completely know another person, even one we're incredibly close to, and that sometimes, we don't even know ourselves. I really appreciated the relationships between siblings, parents/children and the glimpses into married life. Plus the use of flashbacks and of ghosts or spirits was well done.But one of my favorite things was Donny remembering the dog days of August in his childhood and how he would wait for Hector to fall asleep in the room that the brothers shared so that he could turn the oscillating fan from movement to blow only on him. I wonder how many other siblings did that, and how many folks, when reading that, wondered if their sibling did that to them.....
Artie was a well-known artist who has sold her paintings all over the world. But once she is diagnosed with cancer, her end comes quickly, too quickly. After her death, her family comes together at her home overlooking Mobile Bay to carry out her wishes. Her twin brother Donnie and his wife Mariel and her younger brother Hector are all surprised when they discover that she wishes to be cremated and for some members of her family, this is unacceptable. What follows is a long, drawn-out episode of how each family member must deals with Artie's life and death. There are flash-backs to when all three siblings were children and how they dealt with an eccentric mother and an alluding to a terrible secret that all three share but have never discussed. Mobile, Alabama is my hometown and I was very much looking forward to reading this book. I was disappointed. The flash-backs were a little too confusing, ghost showing up in the middle of the story and throwing the setting off. There is a secret that is barely revealed and not really dealt with. Overall, I was sad to not enjoy this book more.
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2.5**When Artie Sullivan’s final wishes are revealed, her deeply Catholic family members are stunned. Her twin, Donnie, and younger brother, Hektor, along with other relatives and friends are emotionally reeling, and frequently lost in reverie. They all expected she would leave her home to her niece Dolly. No real surprise there, though they can’t imagine that Dolly will want to leave her job in Atlanta to live in the large beach-front home. What they can’t understand is why Artie would ask to be cremated and her ashes scattered in Mobile Bay. George has crafted some wonderful passages that lend wonderful Southern flavor to this slim novel. Her story includes humor along with grief. Family members own up to buried feelings of insecurity or jealousy. It sounds like a really good book, but somehow the whole thing just doesn’t gel. The chapters jump back and forth in time, revisiting long-dead members of the family; George then further confuses the reader by having those “ghosts” appear in various current-day scenes. There’s a hint of a long-kept secret that barely gets revealed and doesn’t really get explored. It would be fine for a beach book, but I don’t think there’s enough here for a meaningful discussion.
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