Sunday, January 1, 2017

Book Review: Margaret's Story

Happy New Year, Gentle Readers. No, of course I'm not online, but this web site just wanted (you know how web sites want things!) to start the New Year with a Christian book review...

Title: Margaret’s Story

Author: Eugenia Price

Date: 1980, 1982

Publisher: Harper & Row (1980), Bantam (1982)

ISBN: 0-553-22583-9 (1982)

Length: 423 pages

Quote: “Even if I’m an old, old woman by the time I manage to wipe that stricken look from his face, I’ll do it.”

Just six years after this first expression of interest in the older, widowed neighbor, Lewis Fleming, Margaret Seton married him. It was 1838, at the height of the Romantic Era, when it was considered desirable for men to express grief, love, and fear, and from the written history of these people (who were real) Eugenia Price infers that Lewis did have a stricken look and Margaret kept it off his face, most of the time. Their story is true; the facts of the novel are part of the history of Florida. Price filled in the conversations.

Margaret’s story, reconstructed from the way she actually told it, is not about romantic passion, although she  married for love and had seven children. (Victorians did that sort of thing; they just didn’t talk about it.) Her story is primarily about her life’s work of raising her stepchildren, having seven children of her own, and operating an inn—mostly in partnership with Lewis, who died only a few years before she did. Later her children kept the inn open, and at the time of writing it was still open to the public as an historic landmark.

Being a novelized biography rather than a novel, Margaret’s Story does not have a very suspenseful plot. Margaret lived through interesting times and had as melodramatic a Civil War experience to tell about as any of her generation. Price, being a Christian, is perhaps particularly interested in the scenes in which Margaret was dutiful to, and comforted by, her Christian faith; although she didn’t impress others as being exceptionally pious or preachy, the real Margaret took her religion seriously, even to the point of not hating Yankees. (Although Price lived in the South after achieving literary fame, and dutifully studied and wrote about Southern history, she was born and brought up in the North, and seems to have been especially attracted to historical Southern heroines who refused to hate Yankees.)

Recommended to those who enjoy a realistic degree of romantic Old South atmosphere, Margaret's Story is unfortunately no longer a Fair Trade Book. It's available in three sizes. The larger-sized editions are going into the collector price range, so if you need a big solid book with large clear type, you need to ask for it and pay for it. For the standard $5 per book, $5 per package, $1 per online payment, you get the smaller paperback edition; if you also want the previous two volumes in this family's story, send a total of $20 or $21, thus paying only the one shipping charge for all three books.