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A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage: A Novel

By author: Marly Youmans
Product Code: H837
ISBN: 9780881462715
Product Format: Hardback
Publisher: Mercer University Press
Availability: In stock
Price: $24.00

After a death at the White Camellia Orphanage, young Pip Tatnall leaves Lexsy, Georgia to become a road kid, riding the rails east, west, and north. A bright, unusual boy who is disillusioned at a young age, Pip believes that he sees guilt shining in the faces of men wherever he goes. On his picaresque journey, he sweeps through society, revealing the highest and lowest in human nature and only slowly coming to self-understanding. He searches the points of the compass for what will help, groping for a place where he can feel content, certain that he has no place where he belongs and that he rides the rails through a great darkness. His difficult path to collect enough radiance to light his way home is the road of a boy struggling to come to terms with the cruel but sometimes lovely world of Depression-era America. On Youmans’s prior forays into the past, reviewers praised her “spellbinding force” (Bob Sumner, Orlando Sentinel), “prodigious powers of description” (Philip Gambone, New York Times), “serious artistry,” “unobtrusively beautiful language,” and “considerable power” (Fred Chappell, Raleigh News & Observer), “haunting, lyrical language and fierce intelligence” (starred review, Publishers Weekly.) Howard Bahr wrote of The Wolf Pit, “Ms. Youmans is an inspiration to every writer who must compete with himself. I had thought Catherwood unsurpassable, but Ms. Youmans has done it. Her characters are real; they live and move in the stream of Time as if they had passed only yesterday. Her lyricism breaks my heart and fills me with envy and delight. No other writer I know of can bring the past to us so musically, so truly.”
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Review by: Edward Wheeler, Commonweal - May 20, 2013
...As a form, the picaresque novel is dependent on great storytelling, and Youmans spins a captivating yarn. Her voice is expressive and cajoling, her tendency to rhapsody chastened by the gritty detail with which she furnishes her young hero's adventures. Even as it displays its traditional stylistic elements, A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage offers something distinct and modern, transcending the Southern Gothic form. The traveler completes his journey; he has not only come home but found out what home is. As is so often the case in a tale driven by myth, the end rests squarely on the beginning, death and birth inevitably conjoined, conveying to us a sense of experience that is both rampire and release.

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