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A Summons to Memphis

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Peter Hillsman Taylor

When Phillip Carver is asked by his sisters to help avert their widower father's impending marriage to a younger woman, he is forced to confront his domineering siblings, a controlling patriarch, and a flood of memories from his deeply troubled past. … see full wiki

Author: Peter Hillsman Taylor
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Vintage Books
Date Published: July 01, 1999
1 review about A Summons to Memphis

Southern Gentility and Memphian Style

  • May 3, 2000
Rating:
+5
Pros: Wonderful characters, moving story

Cons: Could be slow for some

"A Summons to Memphis is like a leisurely port wine sipped slowly and with pleasure beneath a blackjack oak." -- The Philadelphia Enquirer.

I purchased this book based on kchowell's review and I think that it was definitely money well spent. I've been "sipping" this book over the last ten days and today poured the last drop.

I lived in Memphis when I was small, and my parents were both born there. I grew up knowing the "cotillion" set and practicing Southern Belle manners. This fueled my initial interest in this book. After I read the last page, I sat and "processed" for a while. I thought about my dad and his family. After about five minutes I cried.

The story revolves around a New York book editor, Philip Carver, who is called home by his sisters to prevent their widowed father from marrying again. This is the seed that begins the story. What grows from that seed is a poignant tale of loves lost that are never found again. The family moves to Memphis which changes everything for everybody concerned. This Pulitzer Prize winning novel explores family relationships and the motivations behind choices that impact an entire family forever. This is wrapped up in a literary "flavor" that is decidedly Memphian. I sighed on many occasions as the book described Philip's sisters and their manners and carriage. It could have been talking about my grandmother and her sisters.

This book also gives the reader a lot of opportunity to reflect on his/her own relationships. The story might be a bit slow moving for some, it's not an action novel. Leisurely is certainly a good descriptor of the flow of the lives here. The dialogue is minimal, most of what is said is from letters or conversations in the past. The characters are well fleshed and very dimensional. The author gives such a good feeling for how Philip and his sisters have matured.

Most of all, A Summons to Memphis asks us to regard our own mortality. We don't get a practice run at life, we get out of it what we make of it.

I'm mailing this book to my dad tomorrow.



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