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So far back
Pam Durban
Adult Fiction DURBAN

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From Publishers' Weekly:

An aging South Carolina heiress confronts her slave-owning family's ghosts in this sensitive, gothic-tinged third novel from Durban (All Set About with Fever Trees). Single at 65, Louisa Hilliard Marion spends her days caring for her dying mother and attending to Charleston's historic buildings.The month after her mother dies, Hurricane Hugo hits Charleston, and lands Louisa in a Red Cross shelter, jolting her out of her routines. Afterward, Louisa devotes herself to her longtime chore of collecting, sorting and assembling a cache of historical documentsÄchief among them the 1837 diary of her ancestor Eliza. Louisa plunges into the diary, which tells the affecting story of the slave girl Diana, whose independent spirit provoked the Hilliards to particular cruelty. As she uncovers the secrets of Eliza's and Diana's lives, Louisa comes to suspect that a ghost stalks her family's house, moving, scarring and denting the heirloom woodwork and pewter. How can Louisa understand and make amends for her family's history? Will the offended spirit subside if she doesÄand is that spirit Diana's? Besides Louisa's own (third-person) story and Eliza's diary, Durban's narrative also includes two "walking tours" of historic Charleston and a variety of fictive interview transcripts. Though her literary-cum-archeological plot is sometimes slow paced, Durban effectively conveys an American milieu where a seemingly peaceful surface both conceals and alludes to troubled racial relationships in the present and the past. And Durban's carefully managed cast of charactersÄantebellum aristocrats, slave families and their descendants in the modern SouthÄare drawn with subtle grace, producing a narrative of compelling intensity. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Going back and forth between the life of Louisa Hilliard Marion, 65 years old and the last surviving member of one of the South's "best" families, and excerpts from the diary of her great-grandmother, this story paints a realistic picture of Charleston, SC, past and present. As this third novel by Durban (The Laughing Place) begins, Louisa is coping with the decline and death of her mother. Left alone with the family home and memories, she finds an ancient, battered diary. As she begins reading it, strange events become daily occurrences: dishes are moved, the sugar caddy is opened, and the air takes on a definite chill. One morning, Louisa finds a cryptic note on the floor: "I come for my things." She becomes convinced that the key to the "presence" can be found in the pages of the diary and, as she reads on, realizes that her family's history of slave ownership is perhaps not as benign as she was led to believe. Recommended for public libraries with a demand for historical fiction, this book may appeal to fans of John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.DKaren Traynor, Sullivan Free Lib., Chittenango, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Louisa Hilliard Marion
Female
Age: 60s
White
Last of her family that have lived in same house for 250 years.

Evelyn
Female
African American
Successful; granddaughter of Louisa's family's maid.
Businesswoman



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