My Summer Of Southern Discomfort Hardcover – Jun 14 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Short story writer Gayle makes her debut as a novelist with this chronicle of a young, liberal New York lawyer who starts over in the South. The daughter of a famous civil rights champion, Natalie Goldberg stuns her parents by moving to Bibb County, Ga., to work as a prosecutor. The job was initially Natalie's excuse to flee her position at a Manhattan law firm after having an affair with partner Henry Tate and finding herself the scapegoat for a mistake he made. Though Natalie has some trouble acclimating to her new environs, and she butts heads with co-counsel, good ol' boy Ben Maddox, she slowly warms to life in Bibb County while attempting to balance her anti–death penalty stance with her desire to win a capital case. Natalie's dilemmas are perfectly played, and Gayle's economical prose is peppered with sharp sentences (also a few duds: I felt as if I had been born full woman, Athena from Zeus's brow, with heavy breasts and dark pubic hair as curly as that atop my head) and clever fish-out-of-water observations. Don't be fooled by the ditzy jacket art. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Having suffered professional and personal humiliation at the hands of her boss and lover, promising young attorney Natalie Goldberg beats a hasty retreat from the prestigious Manhattan securities law firm where her career precipitously derailed from its fast track and surprises everyone by taking a low-paying, demanding, and unglamorous position as a district attorney in Macon, Georgia. Not only is Natalie a card-carrying Yankee liberal, she is also the daughter of a respected civil rights lawyer, and her sudden career change mystifies her conservative southern colleagues as much as it outrages her father. Alone in a new city, essentially friendless, and nursing a broken heart, Natalie doesn't think things could get much worse until she is appointed cocounsel for a death-penalty case, a position that goes against everything she believes. In this finely crafted debut novel, Gayle evinces a superb mastery of character development, rendering Natalie's various crises of faith with empathic authenticity, endearing humor, and enviable grace. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Gayle has succeeded in the difficult task of writing a feel-good novel set the real world. This book is an extremely well crafted character study in which crime exists, mistakes are made, people have flaws, and life is complicated. Even so, Gayle deftly reveals her characters' good qualities and binds them into a community that I was jealous to join.
The story is told from the point of view of Natalie Goldberg, a woman who is undergoing a profound personal transformation. However, because Natalie is such an observant character, her own issues do not overwhelm the narrative and she brings into focus the other citizens of Macon, who are diverse and well drawn. As a lawyer, Natalie's interaction with her cocounsel, Ben, during a murder trial is probably the most difficult and rewarding relationship in the book, but Gayle gives us enough interesting characters to populate the whole town.
This book defies easy categorization; it's not chick lit, a romance, a thriller, a heavy drama, or a frivolity. It was definitely a great read, however, and I would highly recommend it to anyone.