Grau’s Pulitzer Prize–winning classic, about the racial prejudice and long-buried secrets that threaten to destroy a distinguished Southern family The Howland dynasty began after the War of 1812, when a young Tennessee soldier fighting for Andrew Jackson settled in Alabama. Over the next century, the Howlands accumulated a fortune, fought for Secession, helped rebuild the South, and established themselves as one of the most respected families in the state. But that history means little to Abigail Howland. Though she inherited the Howland manse, her fortunes reverse when her family’s mixed-race heritage comes to light and her community—locked in the prejudices of the 1960s—turns its back on her. Faced with such deep-seated prejudice, Abigail is pushed to defend her family at all costs. Winner of the 1965 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, The Keepers of the House is an unforgettable story of family, tradition, and racial injustice set against a richly drawn backdrop of the American South. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Shirley Ann Grau, including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.
Topics: United States of America, Family, Race Relations, American South, Heiress, Southern Gothic, Scandal, Interracial Couples, and Family Secrets
Published: Open Road Media an imprint of Open Road Integrated Media on Apr 10, 2012
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For some reason, on average I seem to like Pulitzer Prize winning books much better that books winning other major prizes. The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau, which won the Pulitzer in 1965 is a perfect example. It is absolutely a 5 star read as far as I'm concerned.The story takes place at a southern farm which has been owned by the Howland family for seven generations. It is narrated by Abigail, who has the farm in the mid-20th century, and centers around her life and that of her mother and grandfather. The Howlands are strong. They aren't forced out, the don't forget and they don't forgive.The books deals with the changing values and expectations through time as well as the small-mindedness and prejudices of the rural south. The impact of race is a major theme. The book was strongly condemned in the south when it was published and even led to the burning of a cross in the author's lawn. Sometimes the race theme is strongly states, other times it is a more subtle nudge. "In the South, most people could tell that Robert was a Negro. In the North, he would have been white.After Robert there was Nina....then there was Crissy, Christine. Both girls were fair with red hair like their brother's. Their other blood showed in the shape and color of their eyes, in the waxy pallor of their skins, in the color of their fingernails.And how did I know? Because I've spent my time sitting on porches on a sunny dusty afternoon, listening to the ladies talk, learning to see what they saw....They taught me my Bible lessons the exact same way. And to this day I am very good at spotting signs of Negro blood and at reciting the endless lists of genealogies in the Bible. It's a southern talent, you might say."more
family.privilege.death.revenge.Everything has its season. The book of Ecclesiastes explains "seasons" well which may explain why Grau opened the story and picked out the title from Ecclesiastes 12:3-5. At its very core The Keepers of the House is a story of forbidden love. William Howland was from a family of privileged white land owners who owned most of the county. While returning from a three day swamp journey to locate a whiskey still, William comes upon Margaret Carmicheal a large richly hued Black woman. Margaret is an orphan left with relatives but she spends most of her time alone. Alone and washing clothes is how William Howland found her that day when he walked out of the swamp. They spent the rest of their lives together.William and Margaret had three children together. William's first marriage had produced a daughter, Abigail, whose mother died. Abigail returned to the Howland home after a troubled marriage with her own young daughter, Abigail, our narrator. William and Margaret had that strong, understanding kind of love that didn't require much talking. Margaret and William's children Robert, Nina, and Christine were all sent away when they got of age to "pass" in northern cities. There was little to no communication from them. Life went on. Abigail married, John Tolliver, and had her own children. They remained on the Howland land. Her husband launched a successful political career built on segregation principles. John Tolliver thought his segregation rhetoric would go no further than the confines of the White Citizen's Councils he spoke to but it seeped out. His rhetoric caused the past to walk right up to their front door.The women characters within this novel stood out the most. They were strong when it mattered but their weaknesses cripppled them. They loved hard and gave up too easy. They were vengeful.The Keepers of the House read like the author was trying to put a story together and not a finished product. Grau can craft a landscape and make you feel like you are standing there but her characters never connected. I didn't feel like the story began until the last hundred pages. The author took us through 40years of wilderness to get to a promised land that was around the corner. I wanted the ending to be great since I had sluggishly made my way through such a dull narrative. The ending as well as the entire novel was an extreme disappointment.more
I think I have read one of Anne Tyler's book before, maybe "Searching for Caleb" since I vaguely remember something about a fortune-teller. Since then I have occasionally read the blurbs on the back covers of her books when I have seen them in Waterstones, but I have never been keen enough to buy one (or even borrow it from the library).I only read this because it was picked for my on-line book club's February / March read and I wasn't really looking forward to it, but I enjoyed it way more than I had expected. It is the story of two families who become friends after picking up their newly adopted Korean daughters at Baltimore the airport at the same time, one a family of middle-class liberals and the other a family of Iranian immigrants. Each year the families hold a joint Arrival Day party to commemorate the day that Susan Yazdan (formerly Sooki) and Jin-Ho Dickinson-Donaldson became part of their families, attended by their extended families.I liked how the tale was told from multiple points of view so that I got to know both families, seeing them from both the inside and the outside. It starts with Susan's grandmother Maryam, who resents the Donaldson's and especially Jin-Ho's right-on mother Bitsy for thinking that they are always right about everything, but later on you realise that Maryam is not exactly perfect herself, being prickly and quite hypocritical, moaning about Dave showing an interest in Iranian fairly tales when it was Maryam who brought up the subject, and resenting her cousin's American husband for embracing all things Iranian.more
This book is about a family called the Luthers. In the beginning of the book, Roy Luther (the father) is sick. He has four children. Devola who is 18 and she's "cloudy-headed." Mary Call who is 14 and has to take care of the family now. Romey who is 10 and Ima Dean who is 5. Cosby Luther (the mother) died so the Luther children have no mother. Roy Luther has a stroke and is very close to dying. Mary Call is very worried because she knows that she is young and Devola can't keep a family together yet.more
Hardboiled in the best possible way, and, as with -The Yiddish Policeman's Union-, the slang and tempo will slip into your own internal conversation long before you notice. If I were to write a piece of fiction, I would pray like hell for it to be half so good.more
more drawn out fodderell from fielding, the master of subjecdtion lust as l"Amelia" begins. or should I say "continues."more
This is book 6 in the Kitty Norville series. I thought this book was better than the last book and a great addition to the series.In this book Kitty returns to Denver to try and live a normal life with her new husband Ben. Well, of course things don't stay normal. Kitty's pack is being hunted by a horrible, invisible, fire-loving supernatural creature of some sort and Kitty thinks it might be tied to the events that happened in Las Vegas in Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand (Kitty Norville, Book 5).This was a great addition to this series. For once Kitty is in charge; she is making smart (if not always informed) decisions and carrying out plans. Her wry sense of humor is still in force, there is a lot of action in this book and it clicks along as a super fast pace. I was happy that the storyline dealing with the Las Vegas shapeshifters was expanded on and Odysseus Rex was part of that wonderful storyline. Rick is a great character and another new mysterious vampire enters the scene.I love that this book propelled itself forward without needing all the emotional baggage that comes along with the unstable relationships featured in a lot of paranormal series. Kitty and Ben have a happy, stable relationship and it is nice to see a good story where the characters are well-adjusted caring individuals.The latest news I heard was that there was only going to be 7 books in this series. I am not sure if that is still true or not. Either way I am looking forward to the next book.more
984 The Keepers of the House, by Shirley Ann Grau (read 1 Dec 1968) (Pulitzer Fiction prize in 1965) This book was such it inspired me not to do a post-reading note. I read it because it won a Pulitzer prize, but my memory is that it won no prize from me.more
This is the story of three generations of the Howland family, and of a secret that irrevocably changed the lives of the present generation. The setting is an unnamed state in the deep South, either Mississippi or Alabama. The novel was published in 1964, the year that brought the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and the issue of race relations is central to the plot. Thus, the novel addressed a current social and political issue and must surely have been controversial upon its publication.As I read, I was struck by how dated the novel seems. I'm sure the revelation of the secret that led to the climactic events was shocking in the context of 1964 society, but 45 years later it doesn't seem shocking at all. In the 1964 society portrayed in the novel, many white families were ashamed of relatives who weren't segregationists. In 2009, most white families are ashamed of relatives with racist attitudes. What a difference 45 years makes. This book would be good supplemental reading for a study of the history of race relations in the United States and the social context of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.more
This is simply a great story and a great read about a wealthy, historic family in the segregated south. The Howlands have money but they don't show it. The tension becomes significant when the widower, William, "finds" Margaret, a poor black girl, and brings her home where she eventually bears his children. William also has a daughter and granddaughter from his first marriage (white), and the interaction between the family members weaves an interesting contrast in the times leading up to the civil rights movement. The Keepers of the House has a great climax and satisfying ending. I highly recommend it.more
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