Catalogue


On the occasion of my last afternoon /
Kaye Gibbons.
imprint
New York : Putnam, c1998.
description
273 p. ; 21 cm.
ISBN
0399142991 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Putnam, c1998.
isbn
0399142991 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
2199111
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 1998-09-15:
In 1990, aged Emma Garnet Tate Lowell recalls her hard life in Gibbons's (Ellen Foster, Audio Reviews, LJ 11/1/96) new novel, read ably by Polly Holliday. Raised on a plantation, Emma nonetheless opposes slavery, based largely on her contempt for her monstrous father. Escaping him via marriage, she finds peace with husband Quincy, three daughters, and faithful servant Clarice. The Civil War shatters her idyll, as she works alongside Quincy nursing Confederate casualties. An unabashed tearjerker, this novel presents no fewer than four deathbed scenes, with three major characters dying off camera. Most of them seem to emerge from central casting, with only Emma Garnet herself providing much depth. Her blindness to the privileges of her own life grates on the listener, until the body count mounts and one must acknowledge she has earned her self-pity. Buy this for Gibbons's rich prose and period detail, Holliday's cadenced reading, and the Oprah factor.‘John Hiett, Iowa City P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1998-04-20:
A plea for racial tolerance is the subtext of Gibbons's estimable new novel, her first foray into historical fiction. Like her previous books (Ellen Foster, 1997, etc.), it is set in the South, but this one takes place during the Civil War era. Now 70 and near death, Emma Garnet Tate begins her account by recalling her youth as a bookish, observant 12-year-old in 1842, living on a Virginia plantation in a highly dysfunctional family dominated by her foulmouthed father, a veritable monster of parental tyranny and racial prejudice. Samuel Tate abuses his wife and six children but he also studies the classics and buys paintings by old masters. Emma's long-suffering mother, of genteel background and gentle ways, is angelic and forgiving; her five siblings' lives are ruined by her father's cruelty; and all are discreetly cared for by Clarice, the clever, formidable black woman who is the only person Samuel Tate respects. (Clarice knows Samuel's humble origins and the dark secret that haunts him, which readers learn only at the end of the book.) Gibbons authentically reproduces the vocabulary and customs of the time: Emma's father says "nigger" while more refined people say Negroes. "Nobody said the word slave. It was servant," Emma observes. At 17, Emma marries one of the Boston Lowells, a surgeon, and spends the war years laboring beside him in a Raleigh hospital. Through graphic scenes of the maimed and dying, Gibbons conveys the horror and futility of battle, expressing her heroine's abolitionist sympathies as Emma tends mangled bodies and damaged souls. By the middle of the book, however, Emma's narration and the portrayal of Clarice as a wise and forbearing earthmother lack emotional resonance. Emma, in fact, is far more interesting as a rebellious child than as a stoic grown woman. One finishes the novel admiring Emma and Clarice but missing the compelling narrative voice that might have made their story truly moving. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, April 1998
Booklist, May 1998
Kirkus Reviews, May 1998
Library Journal, June 1998
USA Today, June 1998
New York Times Book Review, July 1998
Washington Post, July 1998
USA Today, August 1998
School Library Journal, September 1998
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Authored Title
This novel, set before & during the Civil War, tells of the childhood of a Southern belle, her marriage to a Northern doctor, & her transformation from a self-absorbed child to a loving, mature wife & mother.
Unpaid Annotation
Emma Garnet, the heroine of Kaye Gibbons's sixth novel, takes the reader on a Southern journey through place and time, from 1842 to 1900. We see her first as a plantation owner's daughter, pampered by servants yet self-taught in subjects not then in the woman's sphere. As a girl, she does not question the South's peculiar institution, but gradually she recognizes the brutality of slavery. Still, during the Civil War, she works tirelessly in a Southern military hospital, ministering to the wounded out of her fervent sense of loyalty to the South.Throughout the conflict Emma Garnet contains her own warring impulses: her love of the Old South and her hatred of the way it reduces people to chattel. After the war, Emma Garnet attempts to reconcile herself to its trail of death and devastation by moving North, where, she believes, her answers lie. Her search takes twenty years, and only near the end of her life does she find peace. The miracle of her story is in her heart's transformation."Kaye Gibbons's novels have the compact detail of folk art, without any of the corn," James Wolcott wrote in The New Yorker. Her latest creation features the moving portrayal of a strong and proud heroine who digs beneath the quotidian surface of her life to uncover an extraordinary world.
Unpaid Annotation
Lush in detail and vibrating with life of its characters, this powerful new novel invites us to experience a long-gone South through the life of a fascinating woman.Emma Garnet, the heroine of Kaye Gibbons's sixth novel, takes the reader on a Southern journey through place and time from 1842 to 1900. We see her first as a plantation owner's daughter, pampered by servants yet self-taught in subjects not then in the woman's sphere. As a girl, she does not question the South's "peculiar institution", but gradually she recognizes the brutality of slavery. Still, during the Civil War, she works tirelessly in a Southern military hospital, ministering to the wounded out of her fervent sense of loyalty to the South.Throughout the conflict Emma Garnet contains her own warring impulses: her love of the Old South and her hatred of the way it reduces people to chattel. After the war, Emma Garnet attempts to reconcile herself to its trail of death and devastation by moving North, where, she believes,her answers lie. Her search takes twenty years, and only near the end of her life does she find peace. The miracle of her story is in her heart's transformation."Kaye Gibbons's novels have the compact detail of folk art, without any of the corn", James Wolcott wrote in The New Yorker. Her latest creation features the moving portrayal of a strong and proud heroine who digs beneath the quotidian surface of her life to uncover an extraordinary world.

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