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This One And Magic Life: A Novel Of A Southern Family [Paperback]

Anne C George
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 25 2001

In the deep South, where love and hatred run deep and close, dissension often summers just beneath the surface.  When a family gathers for a funeral as its old homestead above the waters of Mobile Bay, it must carry out the last wish of the aunt and sister whom it has come to mourn.  It is a wish that will unearth a terrible secret, one that will either tear her siblings and their offspring apart or allow them to accept buried memories, wounds , and love.

In This and Magic Life, Anne Carroll George has created as brilliant portrait of a Southern family in all its glory, captured in a moment of searing intensity and lyric truth.  Rich with wisdom and deep understanding this compelling saga the twentieth century -- and tells a story that is truly timeless.

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From Publishers Weekly

Award-winning author of the Southern Sisters Mysteries (Murder Shoots the Bull, etc.) and former Alabama State Poet, George proves she can smoothly shift genres in this silky and passionate literary novel. Sullivan family members are returning to their sleepy Harlow, Ala., hometown to mourn the death of 58-year-old Artie (Artemis) Sullivan, a spunky and talented painter. Her twin brother, Donnie (Adonis), and younger sibling, Hektor, along with Donnie's wife, Mariel, and their daughter, Dolly, learn more than they expected. Artie's death has her loved ones ransacking their memories to hold the truths, half-truths and outright lies of their lives up to the light. Upset by Artie's wish to be cremated, Mariel produces a fake funeral to keep up appearances, while she examines her jealousy of Artie's intense bond with Donnie and Dolly. Donnie and Hektor unearth painful memories about their parents' early deaths and their mother's mental instability, seductive beauty and affair with neighbor Zeke Pardue. They also reveal a dark, decades-old family secret that only Artie's death could bring to the surface. The narrative can be confusing as it haphazardly switches points of view: some chapters are in the third person, others are written in the voices of various characters. But perhaps the polyvocal approach is an adequate device to explain the myriad entanglements and reveal the harbored secrets of this family. Sad moments include a father who accidentally kills his baby by leaving her out in the hot sun while he passes out drunk; a more subtle passage features Artemis making love with her cousin Bo. Drawing on her poetic roots, George's assured, soft Southern prose is full of symbolism and lyrical phrases, with much stargazing, Greek mythology and rising and setting suns to infuse the homey story with a mystical aura. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Perhaps best known for her sweetly Southern murder mysteries, the "Southern Sisters" series, George steps out of the role that brought her an Agatha Award for Murder on a Girls' Night Out to give us the sights, sounds, and memories of coastal Alabama. With her trademark witty dialog and smart characters, George presents the story of the Sullivan family. The reader will join other "outsiders" looking in on the very close and ultimately dangerous relationships between parents Thomas and Sarah and twin brother and sister Donnie and Artie (originally named Adonis and Artemis by their mythologically inclined father). The family has gathered to say goodbye to the dying Artie, beloved artist and genteel soul. Through the grief and humor converge stories of other members of the Sullivan family, including Hektor, Dolly, and Mariel. This poignant and bittersweet novel is a pleasure to read and shows great promise from an already proven writer. Fans of "Southern Sisters" will not be disappointed, and others who stumble upon this novel will want to discover all of George's works.
-AShannon Haddock, Bellsouth Corporate Lib. & Business Research Ctr., Birmingham, AL
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just read it. It was her last gift to us. June 26 2001
Anne was a dear personal friend. She sent this book to me shortly before her death. She told me that she felt that it was her best work and referred to it as her book about forgiveness. It has been a very long time since a book has moved me so deeply. I recommend it highly. Don't expect to find the wonderful, silly Southern Sisters anywhere in these pages. DO expect to find grace in all its guises-- as beauty, as elegance and, yes, Anne, as forgiveness and redemption. It grieves me that we lost this magnificent writer before she could write more books like this one. DO read her poetry, as well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars This One and Magic Life... June 25 2004
This was my first experience reading Ms. George's work, and what a wonderful one it was! This a great southern fiction book!!! You feel like your right there with all them in Harlow Al. arguing about whether or not to have a funeral with an empty casket! I really did enjoy this book, and recommend it to anyone who may be interested in reading it. You won't be disapointed :)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Laden with Happiness and Tears June 20 2002
Spaces and overlaps and the time space continuum. Family, heart, soul, southern fiction at its very richest. Voices from the grave and a meeting of the generations as a family icon passes through this world. Mortality, as seen through a veil of overlaps and spaces, quirks and characters. Sunrise, Sunset - flows through the chapters like the water of Mobile Bay. Bittersweet beauty woven through the pages with language artistic and lyrical. Confusion and chaos, childhood secrets and the furtive secrets of love and life. One season following another, and don't forget the devil either. This is NOT a light hearted beach read, although the bay beckons and glimmers and the dunes reflect the dimming light. The depth and intensity of this book left this reader breathless and weeping. The characters are as authentic as the Spanish moss and the scent of almonds and are a glimpse in our own humanity. And, perhaps a literal glimpse into the author's own sunset? Let me HIGHLY recommend this book, it goes to the very top of the scale.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Southern drama with a drab ending April 8 2002
This Southern Drama surrounds a Catholic family whose beloved sister has decreed she be cremated rather than enterred. The events of the plot occur over a 3 or 4 day period of time. There are the traditional and stereotypical skeletons in the Sulivan Family closet-- divorce, alcoholism, the mentally ill mother, and accidental deaths. These do add some content, but in general, I would say that this book lacks any action. This plot style indicates that George is trying to get us to examine the characters in order to make a statement about Southern life. George fails in this aspiration.If I was forced to use this book to draw conclusions about Southern culture, I would say Southerner's were shallow, mundane, and uninspiring. George's characters are focused on social expectations and are all self-involved. They really are not a compelling lot.
Instead of using flashbacks to the past, George uses the ghosts of the family members to add depth to the story and the characters. This technique generally fails to add any since of history or real depth to the story. The characters and the story remain uncompelling and unsympathetic.
I would classify this book as a "Beach Read." It is interesting enough to keep you occupied and thinking is not required to understand the plot. I was glad that I borrowed it from the library.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What a story! Dec 8 2001
I have read all of Anne George's "Sister" mysteries and loved them all. When I discovered this book, I could not wait to read it. She did not disappoint me. I was touched by the characters and transported to Harlow, Alabama by Miss George's words. While "This One and Magic Life" is very different from the sister mysteries, you will find it to be a delightful read. Miss George will be sorely missed by this fan as will her lovable characters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This One and Magic Life Sept. 27 2001
I had read all of Anne George's Southern Sister mysteries, so was anxious to read "This One and Magic Life". She didn't disappoint me -- I truly loved this book. How sad it is that we will no longer be able to enjoy any of Anne George's books -- she was a wonderful writer!
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5.0 out of 5 stars This One and Magic Life April 19 2001
This book grabbed me by the heart as it revived long-forgotten memories and dreams of family, friends,life and living in the South. This book will join my select group of favorites and I will be telling all my friends about it. Thank you, Anne Carroll George!
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5.0 out of 5 stars read it! Sept. 6 2000
If you read Anne George mysteries you know she is an intelligent and witty writer....this book raises her to the higher pantheon of great southern genre writer.
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