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The Member of the Wedding

by Carson McCullers

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,487574,475 (3.88)183
Drifting and uncertain, a motherless twelve-year old girl called Frankie sees a solution to her unhappiness in the approaching wedding of her elder brother.
  1. 00
    The Little Friend by Donna Tartt (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Frankie and Harriet are both brave, lonely schoolgirl heroines, residents of the Deep South.
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» See also 183 mentions

English (53)  Catalan (3)  Dutch (1)  All languages (57)
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
I read “The Member of the Wedding” because it had been recommended at the Napa Valley Writers conference I attended this summer. It has some similarities to “To Kill a Mockingbird” and it was suggested that Harper Lee might have been influenced by the book when she wrote Mockingbird.

This novel is excellent on many levels – a great narrative voice, well drawn characters, believable dialogue, and wonderful sensory details. McCullers transports us to the hot and lazy summer of the wartime south.

For me the most memorable aspect of this novel is that the story is told through the eyes of a twelve year old on the verge of adolescence. Her innocence makes for great suspense as we see her heading down a path which we know will lead to trouble. I found myself wanting to shout out to her not to do what she was about to do.

As it turned out she didn’t need my help. Great book.
( )
  LenJoy | Mar 14, 2021 |
Wow, this was even more amazing than I remembered. I think it had been over 20 years since I read it. I had read more recently HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER - and boy, I thought that I loved that; but I only loved one of the two plots of that story, whereas this was 100% amazing through and through.

I had to look up the year that child actress Anna Paquin starred in the TV movie version of this - 1997. I found that movie too literal, and Paquin cast too young; she was so small, and Frankie was supposed to be so tall. The scenes with the solder were VERY disturbing when played with such a small girl. That said, I'll never forget her performance in the climactic scene.

I did not recall how close to the end of the book the wedding happened - i.e. how little "happened" afterward, or rather how crammed all the "after" was into so few pages, as was the wedding itself. Which is part of the writing's power. I think McCullers is just amazing in how she brings her stories to a head, making the payoff as good as the journey, which is not a common thing in a modern novel. Usually you get a really good bunch of pages but summed up with kind of an anti-climax; or, you get a real whopper of a narrative arc and ending, but don't enjoy the journey so much. MEMBER OF THE WEDDING is flawless - maybe being relatively short at only about 150 pages is a help. Modern novels probably just go on too long.

I won't bother with much of a plot summary. Southern eccentricity, lots of mood and pictures of intimacy; 12-year-old Frankie spends the dog days of a deep-South summer in anticipation of her big brother's wedding. She's on the cusp of big change, and at times truly manic in her passions and her desire to quit town for good. There's something very powerful in stories about girls this age that always draws me in McCullers is the best.. ( )
  Tytania | Sep 12, 2020 |
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!
http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/12889042

I thought I had written this long ago but come to find out no, I had just throught about what I would say.

So it has been a little while since I read it.

It is a rather sweet story of a young girl who has delusions about her immediate future. She lives in an older, poor part of town and believes she belongs elsewhere. In other words, she has an imagination. Her imagination takes flight when her sister (I think) is going to get married, in another city. She builds a story in her head about how the newly wedded couple will take her along with them to live.

No amount of discussion with others will change her mind. Not that they always understand what she is going on about. She has long talks with the woman who works for her family and with a younger boy who lives down the street. The odd trio develops a bond and almost anything can be discussed among them.

It is a sweet story that covers some of the same ground as The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, in a different, lighter way.
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
3.5/5 ( )
  jocelynelise_ | Aug 10, 2020 |
was very well received in our Book Circle. There was more talk about the treatment of time than I had focused on, and that makes me think I will read it again with a more critical eye. But oh, poor Frankie, going through the private turmoil of change that is teenage years, in a particular place and time, without a mother to model herself toward or against, with a deep need to belong and an equally deep imagination.

Her behavior reminded me, along with a recent review of something else this week, of Goffman's The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, wherein he details the ways we act differently in different company, in different roles, etc. It was written a long time ago, but Frankie reminded me of how we consciously and unconsciously try on presentations every day, until, if we are lucky, we arrive at the set of realities that constitute our public and private personhood. ( )
  ffortsa | Jul 20, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
Frankie is the pawky, gawky heroine of Carson McCullers' slim (195-page) new novel—she calls it a novella. Unlike Novelist McCullers' earlier books (The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Reflections in a Golden Eye), which were well filled with the complex, morbid relationships of adults, The Member of the Wedding is a serious attempt to recapture that elusive moment when childhood melts into adolescence. The result is often touching, always strictly limited by the small scope of its small characters. Like childhood, it is full of incident but devoid of a clear plot; always working its way ahead, but always doubling back on itself; two-faced, two-minded. The soiled elbows of Frankie, the brat, keep showing below the sleeves of the orange satin bridal dress which F. Jasmine Addams, Esq. wears to her older brother's wedding.
added by kidzdoc | editTime
 

» Add other authors (55 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Carson McCullersprimary authorall editionscalculated
Diercks, LisaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Floyd, RebeccaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moering, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moisan, ChristopherCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sarandon, SusanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
For Elizabeth Ames
First words
It happened that green and crazy summer when Frankie was twelve years old.
Quotations
“The world is certainly a small place,” she said.
“What makes you say that?”
“I mean sudden,” said Frankie. “The world is certainly a sudden place.”
“Well, I don’t know,” said Berenice. “Sometimes sudden and sometimes slow.”
Frankie’s eyes were half closed, and to her own ears her voice sounded ragged, far away:
“To me it is sudden.”
That is the way it is when you are in love. Invariably. A thing known and not spoken.
Berenice began with the old same story that they had heard many times before. The story of her and Ludie Freeman. A long time ago.
“Now I am here to tell you I was happy. There was no human woman in all the world more happy than I was in them days,” she said. “And that includes everybody. You listening to me, John Henry? It includes all queens and millionaires and first ladies of the land. And I mean it includes people of all color. You hear me, Frankie? No human woman in all the world was happier than Berenice Sadie Brown.”
She had started with the old story of Ludie. And it began an afternoon in late Octorber almost twenty years ago. The story started at the place where first they met each other, in front of Camp Campbell’s Filling Station outside fo the city limits of the town. It was the time of the year when the leaves were turning and the countryside was smoky and autmn gray and gold. And the story went on from that first meeting to the wedding at the Welcome Ascension Church in Sugarville. And then on through the years with the two of them together. The house with brick front steps and the glass window son the corner of Barrow Street. The Christmas of the fox fur, and the June of the fish fry thrown for twenty-eight invited relatives and guests. The years with Berenice cooking dinner and dewing Ludie’s suits and shirts on the machine and the two of them always having a good time. And the nine months they lived up North, in the city of Cincinnati, where there was snow. Then Sugarville again, and days margining one into another, and the weeks, the months, the years together. And the pair of them always had a good time, yet it was not so much the happenings she mentioned as the way she told about these happenings that made F. Jasmine understand.
Berenice spoke in an unwinding kind of voice, and she had said that she was happier than a queen. As she told the story, it seemed to F. Jasmine that Berenice resembled a strange queen, if a queen can be colored and sitting at a kitchen table. She unwound the story of her and Ludie like a colored queen unwinding a bolt of cloth of gold—and at the end, when the story was over, her expression was always the same: the dark eye starting straight ahead, her flat nose widened and trembling, her mouth finished and sad and quiet.
I wish I was somebody else except me.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Please do not combine Carson McCuller's original novel with either her stage play adaptation, the related Bloom's Guide , or other treatments of the story. Thank you.
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Drifting and uncertain, a motherless twelve-year old girl called Frankie sees a solution to her unhappiness in the approaching wedding of her elder brother.

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Penguin Australia

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