Mayes, Frances "Swan" - 2002
After Frances Mayes wrote a couple of autobiographical novels about her life in Tuscany, this is her first fiction novel.
The story is set in her native Georgia and stretches over just a couple of days. The Mason family is one of the richest families in Swan but has had a lot of problems and secrets to hide. When one of them seems to have been "unearthed", the daughter has to come home from Italy and both she and her brother have to come to terms with a lot of questions buried in the past.
This book describes small town life as well as family life, interesting characters and lots of good southern food.
I didn't like the first book of her Tuscany autobiographies ("Under the Tuscan Sun"), it is one of the few books I didn't finish, but I really liked this one. Even though it deals with a lot of problem areas, I thought the feeling of this novel was quite warm and comforting.
From the back cover:
"In her celebrated memoirs of life in Tuscany, Frances Mayes writes masterfully about people in a powerful and shaping place. In Swan, her first novel, she has created an equally intimate world, rich with striking characters and intriguing twists of fate, that hearkens back to her southern roots.
The Masons are a prominent but now fragmented family who have lived for generations in Swan, an edenic, hidebound small town in Georgia. As Swan opens, a bizarre crime pulls Ginger Mason home from her life as an archeologist in Italy: The body of her mother, Catherine, a suicide nineteen years before, has been mysteriously exhumed. Reunited on new terms with her troubled, isolated brother J.J., who has never ventured far from Swan, the Mason children grapple with the profound effects of their mother's life and death on their own lives. When a new explanation for Catherine’s death emerges, and other closely guarded family secrets rise to the surface as well, Ginger and J.J. are confronted with startling truths about their family, a particular ordeal in a family and a town that wants to keep the past buried.
Beautifully evoking the rhythms and idiosyncrasies of the deep South while telling an utterly compelling story of the complexity of family ties, Swan marks the remarkable fiction debut of one of America’s best-loved writers."