Roxanna Slade is a 1998 novel by Southern writer Reynolds Price. I continue to read his books as I come across them, because I was deeply impressed with Kate Vaiden. This doesn't measure up for me, although reviewers liked it. I think reading Kate Vaiden first spoiled me. I never could bring myself to care about Roxanna. I'll keep reading this author, though. He is well-respected and honored in literary circles, and he does have a way with words. There's a Reading Group Guide here.
The book begins on October 7, 1920, on Roxanna's birthday.
from the book jacket:
Roxanna begins her story on her twentieth birthday -a day that introduces her to the harsh realities of adulthood and changes the course of her life forever. From this day on, Roxanna is quick to share with the reader the intimate details of ninety years of life in North Carolina. While she rarely leaves the small town of her youth, Roxanna's vision of the world is shaped by intense passions and loyalties and the certain tragedies of a life long lived.quotes:
Roxanna Slade is a sweet-and-keen-tongued tale-teller. And her beguiling tale is one that boldly reflects the high and low moments in the development of the modern South and the nation as well as the inner strength of a woman possessed of a piercingly clear vision, forthright hungers and immense vitality.
Whatever foolishness any politician or TV preacher tries to peddle today about human families as the peak of all striving, the highest of every human achievement, let me tell you plainly that in my youth and young womanhood, the families of many people thought to be decent as bands of angls were nothing but factories for driving souls crazy or still more evil than their hateful mothers or fathers.
And that big claim -but dead earnest- doesn't even mention the brothers or uncles who could use their younger kin like side meat. And even if all your people were saints, the lack of anything solid for young white respectable women to do would leave a girl so bone-shattering bored
that she might easily turn out a demon of world-sized meanness, just for something to do with the endless silent hours of frost or broiling swelter.
Sometimes it's fairly slim consolation to notice how few human beings of any sex or background are called to anything grander than dinner.
The New York Times has a positive review and closes with this:
In one way this tale represents a novelist's version of millennial fever. We will see many characters taken through the 20th century as it draws to a close. Since this century has been in many ways a more interesting one for women than for men, many of these books will be about women. ''Roxanna Slade'' is not only an example but exemplary.Kirkus Reviews describes it as
A lovingly detailed record of a long and seemingly modest life, given resonance by the prolific Price’s extraordinary language and his sharp eye for the subtle complexities of character" and closes by calling the protagonist "a memorable figure, and further indication of Price’s quiet, precise power as a novelist.Publishers Weekly has a positive review.
Other books I've read by this author:
A Long and Happy Life (1962)
Kate Vaiden (1986)
Blue Calhoun (1992)
Good Hearts (1998)