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 Memoir Review    

 

 

Grass Widow:
Making My Way in Depression Alabama
by Viola Goode Liddell
University of Alabama Press, 2004
Tuscaloosa and London
Trade paper, $12.95 (80 pages)
ISBN: 0-8173-509-X
 
 
 

Viola Goode Liddell's posthumous memoir, Grass Widow, is candid, lively, and intelligent. Fearing scandal or shame, most women in 1930s Alabama didn't divorce or move back to their hometowns. Liddell, understanding she was "the biggest nuisance in the family," moved back to Camden, Alabama, to rebuild her life. 

Not knowing what else to do, she has no job or money, Liddell asks her only sister to use her connections in the community to help Viola find a teaching job. Once she gets the position, she has to be ever-vigilant about her behavior in order not to embarrass her sister, her son, her immediate and extended family, or herself. 

Men present other obstacles. At thirty, Viola is still young enough to want to remarry but is warned that parents, particularly mothers, in the school district are concerned, "teachers.... are working harder to get married than impart knowledge." 

Liddell's successful reinvention of her life as a "respectable" woman is a testament to her character and tenacity. Using her narrative as a commentary on the plight of all women, Liddell offers an insightful look at the mores of her time. 

Born in Wilcox County, Alabama, Viola Goode Liddell (1901-1998), wrote short stories for a number of periodicals and is the author of With a Southern Accent.

 

Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews
 

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