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 Fiction Review    

 

 

Right As Rain
By Bev Marshall
Ballantine Books, 2004
Hardcover, $23.95 (404 pages)
ISBN: 0-345-46841-4
 
 
 

Right as Rain, set in rural Mississippi, uses a series of contrasts to dramatize the changes in the state between the years of 1950 and 1968. The novel's prologue uses a scene from 1935 - 1940 to show the improvements made between the wealthy landowners and whites and blacks before 1950. 

Dichotomies abound in Bev Marshall's sophomore novel. (Walking Through Shadows was her debut.) She use socio-economic, sexual, and racial tensions to tell the saga of two  generations of black families and their white counterpart.   

The Parsons, like many of their neighbors, use tenant farmers to make ends meet. They hire the black womenfolk to help with household chores -- cooking, cleaning, ironing, tending the children, and whatever else needs to be done to make their lives easier. Tee Wee and her husband have been with the Parsons for so many years that Tee Wee has come to consider Mrs. Parsons and her children "family." When Mrs. Parson's hires Icey, a black woman who can read, to help Tee Wee with the household chores, their subtle rivalry turns into occasional warfare. 

The Parsons' son, Browder, a dreamy romantic who wants to go to Ole Miss before moving to Hollywood to make movies, has always been in love with Tee Wee's daughter Crow. He believes a white man and a black woman can make a marriage successful if move far enough away. Crow, having watched her older sister Earnestine elope to Alabama and find a way to go to a historically black college, knows there's a better life. Using her body as a barter for money, she finds a way to finance an escape and start a career in Memphis. 

The changes in lives' of Tee Wee's children serve as a backdrop for the changes in the country as a whole. They are forced to migrate north in order to find jobs and she loses a son in Vietnam. 

Purists will find the novel's anachronisms annoying. 

A native of McComb, Mississippi, Bev Marshall lives in Ponchatoula, Louisiana.

 

Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews
 

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