Marvelous Secrets
Marian Coe
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Buy *Marvelous Secrets* online Marvelous Secrets

Marian Coe
232 pages
July 2000
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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In the last decade or so, it seems that we have heard more from writers labeled as "Southern writers" than since the first part of the twentieth century, when William Faulkner and Carson McCullers were writing. Southern literature is described as including such characteristics as importance of family, sense of community, importance of time and place, and exploration of the past. All of these characteristics come through in Southern writer Marian Coe's Marvelous Secrets, her collection of stories that places her women characters in various stages of life, from young housewife to senior citizen.

Curled Up With a Good BookMany of Coe's characters have never left the South. Others escaped as soon as they could, eventually returning to their roots physically and/or emotionally. In "Local Color," widow Sally Riddle, owner of the Saved Treasures Shop, is determined to not let progress destroy the square in the town she's lived in all her life. The young wife from Georgia in "Waiting at the Matterhorn" drags her perfectionist husband on a bus tour trip through Germany, hoping to spark new life into their marriage, only realizing by the end of the trip that a new life for her awaits elsewhere.

In "Pretty Is As Pretty Does," middle-aged Ali returns home to Alabama after living most of her adult life in California. As the two cousins she grew up with drive her through town showing her familiar sights, Ali rides "through a forgotten reality that makes the apartment back in LA . . . fade to a mirage." She recalls a life long passed of family gatherings and decides the best way to eliminate the lack of communication between her and her independent adult daughter was to tell her about her family.

The lives of Coe's Southern characters are not so different from anyone else's. Depending on where the reader is in her own life, she can find something familiar within at least one of these true-to-life stories. If, like Ali, she is lucky enough to return to a place of her childhood last seen decades ago, she might also find in the past answers to any problems in the present.

The importance of family, community, time and place, and the past are not exclusive to Southerners. Marian Coe has created believable characters that could be from anywhere and places them in recognizable situations, making Marvelous Secrets a delight for Southerners and non-Southerners alike.

© 2002 by April Galt for Curled Up With a Good Book

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