Mourning Dove is cultural fiction set in Memphis and begins in 1970. It portrays the deep set roots of the Deep South. This is Millie’s coming-of-age story as she is moulded between her close relationship with her brother, and her distant rapport with her mother.
Millie’s early childhood took place in Minnesota, but Posey brought her children back to her own childhood home when she walked out on her alcoholic husband. Posey easily fell back into the social circles of the elite crowd, but Millie and brother Finley began as outsiders. While Finley stretched his wings and thrived, Millie walked in his shadow. Was this due to her shy personality or the expectations of the niche circles her mother moved in?
I thought the author did a good job of describing the glittering socialites of the era and how they performed in public. I also loved all the descriptions of 79 Kensington Park, the Memphis house, and particularly, how they coped in the humidity of summer.
The story is told using a mix of real time and back stories with small hints about the final denouement. The reader is left with some unanswered questions at the end and an epilogue which takes place forty years later. I know little of this era or part of America and was surprised that elements of segregation were still accepted. While Posey was happy to return to the comfort of her upbringing, her children, in particular Finley involved themselves in popular music and later, extreme religion. The gap between the generations widened as both sides tried to understand each other. I thought the book was fascinating, in parts, and believe it would suit readers with an interest in the history of Memphis.
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The heart has a home when it has an ally. If Millie Crossan doesn’t know anything else, she knows this one truth simply because her brother Finley grew up beside her. Charismatic Finley, eighteen months her senior, becomes Millie’s guide when their mother Posey leaves their father and moves her children from Minnesota to Memphis shortly after Millie’s tenth birthday.
Memphis is a world foreign to Millie and Finley. This is the 1970s Memphis, the genteel world of their mother’s upbringing and vastly different from anything they’ve ever known. Here they are the outsiders. Here, they only have each other. And here, as the years fold over themselves, they mature in a manicured Southern culture where they learn firsthand that much of what glitters isn’t gold. Nuance, tradition, and Southern eccentrics flavor Millie and Finley’s world as they find their way to belonging.
But what hidden variables take their shared history to leave both brother and sister at such disparate ends?
Claire Fullerton’s Dancing to an Irish Reel (Vinspire Publishing) is a 2016 Readers’ Favorite, and a 2016 Kindle Book Review Finalist. Claire is also the author of Paranormal Mystery, “A Portal in Time,” (Vinspire.) Her third novel, Mourning Dove, is a Southern Family Saga. It was a 2017 Faulkner Society’s semi-finalist in the novel category, and will be released in June, 2018 by Firefly Southern Fiction. Look for her novella, Through an Autumn Window, as one of four in the book The South in All Season’s, to be released in October, 2018 by Firefly Southern Fiction. Claire hails from Memphis, TN, and now lives in Malibu, CA. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Literary Agency.