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Kate Vaiden - A Novel by Reynolds Price

Kate Vaiden - A Novel by Reynolds Price



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Published by Simon and Schuster
0ne of the most feisty, spellbinding and engaging heroines in modern fiction captures the essence of her own life in this contemporary American odyssey born of red-clay land and small-town people. We meet Kate at a crucial moment in middle age when she begins to yearn to see the son she abandoned when she was seventeen. But if she decides to seek him, will he understand her? Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Kate Vaiden is a penetrating psychological portrait of an ordinary woman in extraordinary circumstances, a story as joyous, tragic, comic and compelling as life itself.
0ne of the most feisty, spellbinding and engaging heroines in modern fiction captures the essence of her own life in this contemporary American odyssey born of red-clay land and small-town people. We meet Kate at a crucial moment in middle age when she begins to yearn to see the son she abandoned when she was seventeen. But if she decides to seek him, will he understand her? Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Kate Vaiden is a penetrating psychological portrait of an ordinary woman in extraordinary circumstances, a story as joyous, tragic, comic and compelling as life itself.

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Publish date: May 29, 1998
Added to Scribd: Aug 13, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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shesinplainview reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I am a big fan of Reynolds Price and although this book was not my favorite, I did like it. It was somewhat depressing but, Price wrote honest books about people and about real life. He understood human nature better than any author I've ever read and he doesn't ask you to like his characters, just hear their stories. I believe he used his books to help us to learn forgiveness and not to judge.
othemts reviewed this
Rated 2/5
This story set in rural North Carolina and later in Norfolk, Virginia is told from the perspective as a memoir titular character. Kate's parents die in a murder-suicide leaving Kate to be raised by relatives and to get involve in self-destructive sexual relationships at a young age. The tone of the book is one of distance and indifference, perhaps appropriate to a narrator who has shut her self off from the world, but at the same time it is difficult to read a story that the narrator seems uninterested in telling. What could be a good story of an interior struggle comes off as dull and unconvincing.
bookish59 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
Great beginning and excellent use of language and style but... seems Southern novels always have to include an abusive man, incestuous or nearly incestuous relationships, and teenage sex. Weren't they busy with farm work?? What happens to Kate when she is only 11 sets her on the path of believing she is responsible. Despite her intelligence, and the loving support of family and friends she continually deserts and hurts the wonderful and caring folks she meets. Eventually she does settle down, finishing school and finding satisfying work. Because of what she did, and the lies on which her life is based, she suffers a deadness. A weakness of the novel is that it is not until she learns she is ill that she decides to try to make amends. Another "device" or reason for wanting to re-connect with her past would be more sincere.
laytonwoman3rd reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Kate Vaiden is one of the least sympathetic heroines I have fallen in love with since Scarlett O'Hara. Her own brand of selfishness results from a feeling that she is responsible for bad things (including death) happening to everyone she gets close to, starting with her parents. The story is told in her voice, with scarcely any emotional overtone, despite the circumstances of her life, ranging from the mildly disturbing to the downright horrific. From time to time, beginning in her middle teens, Kate just abandons her life and the people in it (many of whom she seems to love until she quits them), and starts over. This includes leaving behind her "saint" of an aunt, her beloved horse, and later her infant son. We discover at the end that her purpose in telling her story at the age of 57 is to give it to her son, now a successful grown man she hasn't seen in 40 years. We have to wonder how he will take it, since other people throughout her life have not reacted well to hearing the details. Sometimes her family and friends draw her back, and sometimes they push her onward or reject her outright. She never feels sorry for herself, so I never felt sorry for her either, although I wanted to.
novelcommentary reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Kate Vaiden narrates her life story up until her 57th year when she decides to write her tale to her 40 year old son she has never met. Don’t worry I didn’t give anything away; that’s the first page. Kate does have an interesting tale to tell: orphaned at 11, sexual adventures at 13, basically life in North Carolina just before the outbreak of WWII. The death of her parents, a murder and suicide, is one of the stories that will be unraveled, but there is a life between the event and the truth behind it. Kate grows up with her Aunt Caroline and Uncle Holt – two of the most understanding people ever. Her only friend is the black servant named Nooney who is just a bit older but becomes her mentor and advisor. Kate makes many bad choices in her life as she runs from one bad scenario to another but yet she is likeable. The tone reminds me of the novel The Oldest Living Confederate Tells All in that a female narrator tells her fairly interesting story. In this one thought she is telling it to a child she abandoned. The reader will be left to decide whether they can empathize with someone who makes such a seemingly unconscionable choice. I saw a video that Reynolds Price has been a professor of English Literature for 50 years at Duke University, which means he has been writing and teaching since I was 4. So I certainly owe it to such a scholar to read more of his stories. Below is the Amazon description which nicely summarizes the story: Familial dysfunction defines this Price effort--his first experiment with a first-person narrator in a full-length novel. Kate Vaiden is left parentless as a child when her father fatally shoots her mother and then himself. As an adult, Kate attests, "I'd caused their deaths." She isn't the only one in such a predicament: her mother's mother died in childbirth, and the father of her child was raised an orphan. Trapped in a self-defeating cycle, Kate forever seeks stability, only to flee when it gravitates within her reach. This rich Southern tale, which won a National Book Critics Award in 1986, is slathered with Christian themes of guilt, salvation, shame and, occasionally, triumph.
jlrobinson99 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
This book was lent to me by a friend at work. I had no expectations when I began to read having never heard of the author but was immediately entranced by the story of Kate Vaiden. Kate narrates the book reflecting on her past which is marred by the death, under suspicious circumstances, of her parents. Kate seems both wise beyond her years and naive at the same time. Gentle yet tough, responsible while at the same time irresponsible...she is a mass of contradictions. What I found most pleasing about this novel is how Kate's voice develops through the book. She tells the story from the perspective of her current 50-something self yet when speaking of her childhood you hear the voice of the child, as if magically Kate is once again 10, 12, 20 and so-on. You feel in the moment with Kate, not reflecting on an event as much as you are re-living it. I will definitely seek out more from Reynold Price. Beautiful, engaging, shocking, and ultimately incredibly satisfying.
kambrogi_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Kate Vaiden, the protagonist of this novel, is only eleven years old when tragedy strikes her family and she begins her journey of self-discovery in an America facing the beginning of World War II. From the opening pages of the novel until its end when she is in her fifties, we wonder about two events: what really happened to Kate’s parents, and why did Kate abandon her own child? Although the story begins with tragedy, and Kate experiences tragedy along the way, she meets an extraordinary number of kind, considerate, caring people who do no more than respect, love and attempt to help her. Why she abandons one after another, including her own child, is difficult to understand. Reynolds Price, a fine southern American writer, wrote this book in 1986, presenting a woman who makes her own decisions, plots her own course, understands physical love without guilt and will not be told to behave as society believes she should. Still, as much as I liked her and found her story interesting, I had difficulty understanding her motives most of the time.
jennyo_587543 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I've been reading a ton of stuff by and about Truman Capote lately, so I decided I'd branch out. To another Southern maile author of renown who just happened to write an introduction to Capote's collected short stories.Kate Vaiden won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and it is beautifully written, though there were a few similes and metaphors that either I'm too stupid to understand or were just plain weird ("She was as tired as a wheel," for example). I didn't really like Kate the character though. She had a lot of tragedy in her life, but I just couldn't sympathize with someone who hurt people around her so often with what seemed like no reason other than wanderlust or fear of commitment.It was good, but I'm definitely going to have to read something totally different now, or I'm going to get in a major rut.p. 16 - Why of all things in childhood is that the one blessing invariably lost, that chance of dropping down a hole with no warning into sleep black as closets till a kind friend wakes you?p. 17 - And just that spring I'd felt the start of a truth that's never left me--a grown woman's lovely strength and mercy. I still knew Frances wasn't much more than pretty, but now I could stare at the full undersling of her upper arm or the start of a pale blue crease just south of her big dark navel and pray I would one day earn such gifts and use them as gently.p. 183 - I sat in a back pew and tried to pray. But I couldn't even think of God's first name.p. 264 - If you went to grade school before the Second War, you probably share the feeling I had--that teachers were not quite human beings. No movie star or president or general had the same grand air of being divine.pp. 266, 267 - Paperback books were invented about the time I lit out, and they've been my absolute steadiest companion. I'm not especially choosy. Almost anything in print can flat hypnotize me--I've missed airplane trips because I was waiting at the gate and happened to start reading a handout pamphlet such as "What God Thinks of Hippie Haircuts." Well it beats drugs and drink.
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