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Kate Vaiden by Reynolds Price
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Kate Vaiden

by Reynolds Price

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4181236,186 (3.8)23
  1. 00
    Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All by Allan Gurganus (novelcommentary)
    novelcommentary: similar narration of a women recalling her time in history
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» See also 23 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
My husband wrote his dissertation on Reynolds. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
This story set in rural North Carolina and later in Norfolk, Virginia is told from the perspective as a memoir titular character. Kate's parents die in a murder-suicide leaving Kate to be raised by relatives and to get involve in self-destructive sexual relationships at a young age. The tone of the book is one of distance and indifference, perhaps appropriate to a narrator who has shut her self off from the world, but at the same time it is difficult to read a story that the narrator seems uninterested in telling. What could be a good story of an interior struggle comes off as dull and unconvincing. ( )
  Othemts | Aug 17, 2011 |
Great beginning and excellent use of language and style but... seems Southern novels always have to include an abusive man, incestuous or nearly incestuous relationships, and teenage sex. Weren't they busy with farm work??

What happens to Kate when she is only 11 sets her on the path of believing she is responsible. Despite her intelligence, and the loving support of family and friends she continually deserts and hurts the wonderful and caring folks she meets. Eventually she does settle down, finishing school and finding satisfying work. Because of what she did, and the lies on which her life is based, she suffers a deadness.

A weakness of the novel is that it is not until she learns she is ill that she decides to try to make amends. Another "device" or reason for wanting to re-connect with her past would be more sincere. ( )
  Bookish59 | Apr 13, 2011 |
Kate Vaiden is one of the least sympathetic heroines I have fallen in love with since Scarlett O'Hara. Her own brand of selfishness results from a feeling that she is responsible for bad things (including death) happening to everyone she gets close to, starting with her parents. The story is told in her voice, with scarcely any emotional overtone, despite the circumstances of her life, ranging from the mildly disturbing to the downright horrific. From time to time, beginning in her middle teens, Kate just abandons her life and the people in it (many of whom she seems to love until she quits them), and starts over. This includes leaving behind her "saint" of an aunt, her beloved horse, and later her infant son. We discover at the end that her purpose in telling her story at the age of 57 is to give it to her son, now a successful grown man she hasn't seen in 40 years. We have to wonder how he will take it, since other people throughout her life have not reacted well to hearing the details. Sometimes her family and friends draw her back, and sometimes they push her onward or reject her outright. She never feels sorry for herself, so I never felt sorry for her either, although I wanted to. ( )
1 vote laytonwoman3rd | Dec 4, 2010 |
Kate Vaiden narrates her life story up until her 57th year when she decides to write her tale to her 40 year old son she has never met. Don’t worry I didn’t give anything away; that’s the first page. Kate does have an interesting tale to tell: orphaned at 11, sexual adventures at 13, basically life in North Carolina just before the outbreak of WWII. The death of her parents, a murder and suicide, is one of the stories that will be unraveled, but there is a life between the event and the truth behind it. Kate grows up with her Aunt Caroline and Uncle Holt – two of the most understanding people ever. Her only friend is the black servant named Nooney who is just a bit older but becomes her mentor and advisor. Kate makes many bad choices in her life as she runs from one bad scenario to another but yet she is likeable. The tone reminds me of the novel The Oldest Living Confederate Tells All in that a female narrator tells her fairly interesting story. In this one thought she is telling it to a child she abandoned. The reader will be left to decide whether they can empathize with someone who makes such a seemingly unconscionable choice.
I saw a video that Reynolds Price has been a professor of English Literature for 50 years at Duke University, which means he has been writing and teaching since I was 4. So I certainly owe it to such a scholar to read more of his stories. Below is the Amazon description which nicely summarizes the story:

Familial dysfunction defines this Price effort--his first experiment with a first-person narrator in a full-length novel. Kate Vaiden is left parentless as a child when her father fatally shoots her mother and then himself. As an adult, Kate attests, "I'd caused their deaths." She isn't the only one in such a predicament: her mother's mother died in childbirth, and the father of her child was raised an orphan. Trapped in a self-defeating cycle, Kate forever seeks stability, only to flee when it gravitates within her reach. This rich Southern tale, which won a National Book Critics Award in 1986, is slathered with Christian themes of guilt, salvation, shame and, occasionally, triumph. ( )
  novelcommentary | Jul 29, 2010 |
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Diamond, DonnaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684846942, Paperback)

Familial dysfunction defines this Price effort--his first experiment with a first-person narrator in a full-length novel. Kate Vaiden is left parentless as a child when her father fatally shoots her mother and then himself. As an adult, Kate attests, "I'd caused their deaths." She isn't the only one in such a predicament: her mother's mother died in childbirth, and the father of her child was raised an orphan. Trapped in a self-defeating cycle, Kate forever seeks stability, only to flee when it gravitates within her reach. This rich Southern tale, which won a National Book Critics Award in 1986, is slathered with Christian themes of guilt, salvation, shame and, occasionally, triumph.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:46 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

At a crucial moment in middle age, Kate Vaiden wishes to locate her only child, a son, whom she abandoned when she was 17. As she looks back over her life, her unconventional story unfolds.

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