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Laelia
by Ruth-Miriam Garnett

Category: Fiction / General
224 pages; ISBN: 0743466306

Rating: 8/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner

Review

Laelia
Ruth-Miriam Garnett
Atria, Jan 2004, $22.00, 224 pp.
ISBN: 0743466306

In Peoria, the three fifty something Cates sisters are in matrimonial crisis as they share the same home with one another and their respective spouses. It is not the relationships between the siblings that have tired Rebecca, Claudia, and Gracelyn. It is the constant duty caring for their husbands as each Cates sibling is bone weary with obeying for worse all the time.

Sadly, the tired trio looks forward to a future with their men in nursing homes. Following a head injury Jake lost his ability to think; alcohol consumption has destroyed Timothy; Bernard is dying from bone cancer. Though they have suffered trials and tribulations over the years of their marriages that would make Job react, the sisters did their Christian duty.

Following the dispatching of their male losers, the Cates sisters blossom as well as Rebecca’s successful LAELIA orchid-growing business has. Though free at last, they continue to be God-fearing Baptists though now they must contend with abusive misogynist Pastor Wilson, who condemns the trio as she devils.

Fans of engaging contemporary character studies will appreciate this deep look at the graying of three wonderful African-American women. Though the story line switches gears from overwhelmed providers to ostracized exiles, Ruth-Miriam Garnett smoothly makes the switch. Still, the two subplots deserved separate novels as Ms. Garnett provides tremendous depth to both, so much so that the audience never fully gains the full potential of either. Still, this gem of an author furbishes a powerful tale of middle age adults grasping with control of their lives that will hit home to many readers struggling with a similar generalized scenario.

Harriet Klausner

 

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