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FICTION/Allison, Dorothy
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Subjects
Published
New York : Plume 1998.
Language
English
Physical Description
434 p.
ISBN
9780452279698
Main Author
Dorothy Allison (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

/*Starred Review*/ Allison's debut novel, Bastard out of Carolina (1992), was a blazing success, and her second, a mama-bear of a book that will send readers deep down into another realm, far from everyday consciousness, is sure to excite the same degree of passion. A premier storyteller working in the rich, family-focused, and secret-filled tradition of southern literature, Allison begins this long, dramatic novel with an arresting short sentence, "Death changes everything," and by the time she wraps up her saga of Delia Byrd and her three daughters, she has charted the course of many births, deaths, and rebirths, both physical and spiritual. Delia's legacy is one of abandonment and violence, a love-poor background that leads her to marry a man who beats her so severely she has to flee for her life, leaving her two baby girls behind. This brands her as a great sinner in the beady eyes of the unhappy citizens of tiny Cayro, Georgia, then, to make matters infinitely worse, she becomes a rock-and-roll star, living the glam life in L.A. But Delia cares nothing for fame, and never stops longing for her daughters, even after having a third, Cissy, and she gives it all up as soon as Cissy's father dies, hightailing it back to Georgia to reclaim her real life. Cissy, the cavedweller of the title and a young character of mythic dimensions on the order of Toni Morrison's Sula, is at the molten core of this mystical tale of blood ties and friendship, madness and love, hard work and grace, and she is something to behold. ((Reviewed February 1, 1998)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

Review by Library Journal Reviews

For anyone who wondered what Allison would do after Bastard Out of Carolina a best seller and a literary tour de force here's the answer. In this second novel, rock'n'roller Delia returns to her roots and the family she abandoned. A BOMC and QPBC featured alternate; with a reading group guide (ISBN 0-525-94434-6). Copyright 1998 Library Journal Reviews

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In 1981, Delia Byrd leaves behind the California life of fame and misery she found at the top of the record charts and the bottom of a bottle to return home to Cayro, GA. Cissy, her young daughter, who is grieving for her newly dead father, crazed rocker Randall Pritchard, wants no part of this new life. Now Delia is trying to put together a life and reacquaint herself with the two older daughters (one a hellion, the other a religious zealot) she abandoned ten years earlier when she fled her murderous husband, who stonewalled all of Delia's attempts to obtain legal custody. Shunned by family and community, Delia struggles mightily with sobriety and three unforgiving, hostile offspring. Her remarkable stoicism as she attempts to carve out a new low-key, rock-solid security for herself and her children is nothing short of heroic. Allison's (Bastard Out of Carolina, LJ 3/1/92) powerful elegance puts the lives of these four women right into the face of her readers as she charts their touching, flawed efforts to construct a workable if unconventional family unit. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/97.] Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI Copyright 1998 Library Journal Reviews

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Four women endure pain, experience epiphanies and find imperfect but bearable methods to continue their lives in Allison's moving second novel, after the celebrated Bastard Out of Carolina. After Delia Byrd buries Randall Pritchard?father of her 10-year old daughter, Cissy, and guitarist of the rock band Mud Dogs, for which she was the soulful singer?she leaves L.A. and hits the road to backwoods Cayro, Ga., the town she left a decade ago, fleeing her violent husband, Clint Windsor, and abandoning her two baby daughters. In Cayro, she suffers the scorn of most of the community, who condemn her as a sinner and an unnatural mother. Eventually, she strikes a bargain with Clint, offering to tend him on his deathbed if he will allow her to reclaim her daughters Amanda, 15, and Dede, 12, from their stern, Bible-quoting grandmother. The narrative covers the next few years, during which Delia fights poverty, exhaustion, her household's emotional turbulence and the urge to drink. Sanctimonious Amanda pursues moral rectitude with evangelical fervor; sexpot Dede dreams of driving a big truck down the highway; and outwardly tough but vulnerable Cissy discovers peace of mind in spelunking and begins to suspect her sexual orientation. Allison widens her tale to include other members of the community, rendering some hard-faced, cold-blooded rednecks with unsparing honesty. She weaves into the story such themes as female bonding, the power of hate and the puzzle of love, the hard path to forgiveness and acceptance. There are some problems: the teenage girls often speak unconvincingly sophisticated dialogue, and the narrative tends to ramble. Nevertheless, the novel has a restless energy and consistently interesting characters that will keep readers caring about the flawed but valiant women who manage to surmount their private griefs through stubborn determination. 100,000 first printing; BOMC and QPB featured alternates; author tour. (Mar.)

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Four women endure pain, experience epiphanies and find imperfect but bearable methods to continue their lives in Allison's moving second novel, after the celebrated Bastard Out of Carolina. After Delia Byrd buries Randall Pritchard father of her 10-year old daughter, Cissy, and guitarist of the rock band Mud Dogs, for which she was the soulful singer she leaves L.A. and hits the road to backwoods Cayro, Ga., the town she left a decade ago, fleeing her violent husband, Clint Windsor, and abandoning her two baby daughters. In Cayro, she suffers the scorn of most of the community, who condemn her as a sinner and an unnatural mother. Eventually, she strikes a bargain with Clint, offering to tend him on his deathbed if he will allow her to reclaim her daughters Amanda, 15, and Dede, 12, from their stern, Bible-quoting grandmother. The narrative covers the next few years, during which Delia fights poverty, exhaustion, her household's emotional turbulence and the urge to drink. Sanctimonious Amanda pursues moral rectitude with evangelical sexpot Dede dreams of driving a big truck down the highway; and outwardly tough but vulnerable Cissy discovers peace of mind in spelunking and begins to suspect her sexual orientation. Allison widens her tale to include other members of the community, rendering some hard-faced, cold-blooded rednecks with unsparing honesty. She weaves into the story such themes as female bonding, the power of hate and the puzzle of love, the hard path to forgiveness and acceptance. There are some problems: the teenage girls often speak unconvincingly sophisticated dialogue, and the narrative tends to ramble. Nevertheless, the novel has a restless energy and consistently interesting characters that will keep readers caring about the flawed but valiant women who manage to surmount their private griefs through stubborn determination. 100,000 first printing; BOMC and QPB featured alternates; author tour. (Mar.) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Four women whose lives converge unexpectedly are forced to come to terms not only with their past, but also their future

Review by Publisher Summary 2

From the author of Bastard Out of Carolina comes another compelling novel about four women whose lives converge unexpectedly and force all of them to come to terms not only with their past, but their future. Reprint.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

From the author of the "flawless" (The New York Times Book Review) classic Bastard Out of Carolina comes Cavedweller, once again demonstrating Allison's umatched strengths as a storyteller. Reading "like a thematic sequel" (The New Yorker) to her first novel, Cavedweller tackles questions of forgiveness, mother-daughter bonds, and the strength of the human spirit.When Delia Byrd packs up her old Datsun and her daughter Cissy and gets on the Santa Monica Freeway heading south and east, she is leaving everything she has known for ten years: the tinsel glitter of the rock 'n' roll world; her dreams of singing and songwriting; and a life lived on credit cards and whiskey with a man who made promises he couldn't keep. Delia Byrd is going back to Cayro, Georgia, to reclaim her life--and the two daughters she left behind...Told in the incantatory voice of one of America's most eloquent storytellers, Cavedweller is a sweeping novel of the human spirit, the lost and hidden recesses of the heart, and the place where violence and redemption intersect.