I somehow discovered Carson McCullers much too late. First, I read the Heart is a Lonely Hunter and began reading everything I could get my hands on by her. Being from the south, albeit from a much different time, I somehow relate to her characters, her style of writing, but especially the way she describes her settings - typically sleepy, humid southern towns. The Member of the Wedding was the second novel by McCullers that I read, and although it does not have the level of action that something like The Heart is a Lonely Hunter has, it is an amazing work. The novel is the story of Frankie, a 12-year old girl, and her thoughts in the days leading up to her brother's wedding. Frankie dreads the world after her brother's wedding - so she decides she must either join her brother and his new wife- becoming a "member of the wedding" or simply escape after the wedding to avoid the ensuing loneliness without her brother.
I often do not much attention to the reviews on the back of books, but on the back of The Member of the Wedding, the reviewer noted that McCullers was the first to ever write a formidable novel on this subject---this subject being the dreading "coming of age" theme, and somehow the words of this particular reviewer did strike a chord with me and I really do believe that in this novel McCullers really gets into the mind of Frankie and reminds the reader of estrangement in childhood - particularly of longing to belong to adult world, while it is still looking down upon you. This feeling is captured particularly well in the short scenes during the brother's wedding and the actions between Franke & her relatives. Aside from these coming of age issues, McCullers also manages to shed light briefly on other issues - i.e. racial and political tensions in the south, that make for an interesting read 50 years after the fact...
The novel is overall a very melacholic read and oftentimes dramatic, so if you are looking for something more uplifting, I would warn you before reading The Member of the Weddiing. Otherwise, I think McCullers captures some feelings & sentiments in a very original way in this novel and her voice deserves to be heard.
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