Mr. Caldwell certainly did not disappoint with A House in the Uplands and manages to reveal humanity in even a rather brutish and self-indulgent man.
The Dunbar family has been on the decline and their Georgia plantation has dwindled from 5,000 to a mere 200 acres. Trying to maintain their once highly held social status has taken its toll and the Dunbar’s eldest male, Grady, chooses to ignore reality in a haze of alcohol, gambling and women.
Lucyanne, newly married to Grady is slowly opening her eyes to the reality of her wedded misery. Her love for her husband has prevented her from heeding the many warning signs of what will come, but she eventually tries to escape her circumstance. A rather wishy-washy and indecisive woman, she is not the most sympathetic of characters.
Mama Elsie, Grady’s overbearing mother is every bride’s worst nightmare. She believes her son can do no wrong and that he was “tricked” into marriage by a less than suitable woman. Her own marriage entrapment is revealed when she lets down her guard for a brief moment only to release her wrath, once again, upon her daughter-in-law.
The last of the Dunbar family men, Grady has fallen far and fallen hard and finds himself at an impasse. A desperate attempt to remedy the situation has dire consequences, but at last reveals the man beneath the veil.
What a delight it would be to spend any time with Mr. Caldwell, although his temperament might require making that time a tad limited. I’d hope to quickly discover his writing habits and perhaps bow out gracefully, pack up all his books and hit the road on an all Caldwell road trip to Georgia.
They did feel it, yet neither spoke of it; for often between ourselves and those nearest and dearest to us there exists a reserve which it is very hard to overcome.
Simple, sincere people seldom speak much of their piety; it shows itself in acts, rather than in words, and has more influence than homilies or protestations.
Seldom, except in books, do the dying utter memorable words, see visions, or depart with beautified countenances; and those who have sped many parting souls know, that to most the end comes as naturally and simply as sleep.
My rating for A House in the Uplands is a 10 out of 10.
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Next up, Philip Roth’s American Pastoral…