explores the lives of six high school girl friends and the women they
become. The title can symbolize the opening of Pandora’s box,
but literally refers to a thirty year-old sealed envelope of predictions
written by Louisiana "Lucy" Jones. She decides to bring
the friends together and see how many of the forecasts came true.
Jones and her friends grew up in Ashbeen, Georgia. A small town located in between Atlanta and Augusta.
Lucy is outgoing and loves to swim.
At Girl Scout camp, she takes a lifesaving course that provides
her with life lessons. “Don’t
go in the water unless you have to” or don’t take on the problems of
others unless you have to. “Don’t
let the victim drown you” or don’t let your husband/friend take you
down with them. “Stay
with the victim” or support your husband/friend.
girlhood predictions focused on husband’s career, children, and social
life. These women in their
fifties had made sacrifices, discovered their empowerment through work,
and realized a husband would not save them.
and Bobbie Jean were Lucy’s oldest friends.
They had all been Brownies together.
Sally was the beauty and good girl, who as an adult had to deal
with cancer alone. Bobbie
Jean was the redheaded beauty that had boys at her bidding, then as an
adult discovered love with a much older man and continued her generous
nature in charity work.
Wallee and Millie joined the circle of friends in high school.
Becca was her mother’s hope and dream of the future, but when
she secretly marries after high school, her mother cuts off all ties.
Becca’s marriage fails, but she works hard and becomes
successful in the fashion industry.
Wallee had polio as a child, and as an adult works for a polio
adds the spice to this mixture, since she was and remains unpredictable.
As a young girl, she fakes her drowning.
As an adult, she sets the group up for the ultimate revenge at
their reunion on Amelia Island, Florida.
Susannah Wilds does an excellent job of capturing the sociology of this period. The women of this generation experienced perhaps the greatest cultural changes of women in history. The 1950’s were the fairyland of Donna Reed and June Cheever mothers. Their world was sheltered from the vulgar and ugly. The 1960’s moved from fantasy to stark reality – from pink weddings to Viet Nam. For women, they realized that there was a touch of truth in their mother’s hint to “marry well,” because the corporate ladder was still closed to women. The 1970’s opened the glass ceiling, but the home fell apart. The Opening captures the changing times of the south from times of innocence through social changes and ending in a celebration of survival.
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