Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Guilt, God and Real Estate in a Small Town

     My last memoir review of the summer is Perfectly Miserable~ the book, not the review!  Written by Sarah Payne Stuart about her childhood in, and adult return to, Concord, Massachusetts, Ms. Stuart's story was very readable and had a lot of potential.
     I enjoyed her tales of her formative years in Concord yet wished she had given us more details about her family.  The information she shared about them was spotty, leaving me with more questions than answers.  I was pleased and satifsifed, however, with the way she wove tales of Concord's famous past residents into her own story, especially those of the Alcott family. References to Hawthorne and Thoreau were interesting, as well.

     In order to fulfill the promise included in her book's title, Guilt, God and Real Estate in a Small Town, Sarah Stuart begins by telling her readers that she was not the perfect example of filial compliance, but then who really is?  And while she willingly moved away from Concord (escaped, if truth be told), she then returned, husband and children in tow, to recreate for her own children the childhood experience she had.  That seemed odd to me.  After putting distance, both physical and emotional, between herself and her parents, I remain puzzled about why she returned and what she gained by doing so.  She seemed to leap gleefully into the competition for house and neighborhood prestige in Concord, the "keeping up with the Jones family" syndrome,  a habit that I don't think she admired in the adults of her youth.   And where God enters in, I'm really not sure.
     I do recommend reading Perfectly Miserable, Guilt, God and Real Estate in a Small Town yet I would be interested in the opinions of others regarding whether Ms. Stuart really delivered what she promised in the title.

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