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The Morning and the Evening (Voices of the…
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The Morning and the Evening (Voices of the South)

by Joan Williams

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“The Morning and The Evening” by Joan Williams

I recently was rewarded when I reread this book that I’d owned for many years.

My Dell paperback copy of “The Morning and the Evening” cost just fifty cents in 1963. The cover tells us it had won the $10,000 John P. Marquand Novel Award, and quotes the N. Y. Times as calling it “Superb...exceptional...a complete success.”

When Atheneum published The Morning and the Evening in 1961, William Styron wrote, “It is a haunting and beautiful tale, richly infused with humor and sharp insights into the human predicament. Not the least of Miss Williams’ talents is her perfectly focused rendering of the Southern landscape, which comes through with the clear simplicity of Flaubert’s Normandy, and the sensuous feel of reality. A fine work.”

Joan Williams was recognized with a grant from the Institute of Arts and Letters in 1962.

I quote this information rather than giving a summary of the plot. It is a sad and credible account of small town life. Although his family and the community do not know how to help the 40-year-old mentally retarded man they do the best they can and we watch them with sympathy for him (and gratitude towards those that help him). ( )
  Esta1923 | Apr 28, 2012 |
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Finalist for the National Book Award: Joan Williams's unforgettable first novel is the story of a small Southern town struggling to care for one of its own In a rundown farmhouse in Mississippi, Jake Darby wakes up one morning to find his world forever changed. His long-suffering mother has died overnight, abandoning forty-year-old Jake, who is mute and, according to his neighbors, not quite right in the head. With no family to take him in, it is up to the townspeople of Marigold to take care of Jake, a grave responsibility that brings out the best-and the worst-of a community in which painful truths are usually hidden from sight. In such a place, even the kindest of acts can lead to the most tragic of outcomes. Heralded as the debut of a major new talent when it was first published in 1961, The Morning and the Evening won the John P. Marquand First Novel Award from the Book-of-the-Month Club and established Joan Williams as a leading voice in Southern literature. Elegant, compassionate, and deeply unsettling, it is a portrait of the human spirit in all of its flawed and intricate beauty, and a tale firmly grounded in reality yet told with all the power of myth.… (more)

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