Cover image for My mother's daughter
Title:
My mother's daughter
Author:
Wall, Judith Henry.
Personal Author:
Edition:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Hampton Falls, NH : Beeler Large Print, [2001]

©2000
Physical Description:
504 pages (large print) ; 25 cm
Language:
English
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9781574903720
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Clearfield Library X Adult Large Print Large Print
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Summary

Summary

This multi-generational story is set in small-town Texas spanning the years from World War II to the present. Two sisters, Martha Claire and Justine, move from girlhood to adulthood with different points of view and vastly different dreams. Martha Claire, the central character, is content with her small-town life. She marries Grayson Stewart, son of the town's most successful businessman, just before he is shipped overseas for duty. He is everything she ever wanted in a husband. But even more than a husband, Martha Claire wants a child. Justine has a very different plan for herself and joins the Women's Army Corps. She envisions a glamorous, adventure-filled life on her own as a photographer. So it is with no small irony that when the war ends, Martha Claire is to be found back home, feathering a still-empty nest, while Justine returns from Europe suffering both the physical and mental distress of finding herself pregnant and unwed. It is from this starting point that Judith Henry Wall's poignant and affecting novel follows these women as they set about living lives of compromise with both the joys and the tragedies that mark daily lives.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One July 1945 Justine was coming home! Martha Claire paused in her weeding and sat back on her haunches to relish the thought. At this very minute her sister was on a ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean. And surely before the year was out, Grayson also would come back to her. Her life could begin anew. She stretched a bit and rubbed at the small of her back before returning to her task. Whether Justine noticed it or not, when she came down the front walk for the first time in two and a half years, she was going to be greeted by weedless flower beds and a perfectly manicured yard. And inside, the house was well on its way to being spotless. By the time Justine walked through the front door, every curtain in the entire house would be freshly laundered, starched, and ironed. Daddy had refinished the front door and was even putting down new linoleum in the kitchen and upstairs bathroom. Mother had recovered the seats of the dining room chairs. Justine's bedroom was freshly painted. Yesterday, Martha Claire had gone across the river to pick wild blackberries so Granny Grace could put up Justine's favorite preserves. Granny Grace already had rows of watermelon pickles, spiced peaches, and pickled okra on the pantry shelf, waiting for her granddaughter's homecoming. Martha Claire would help her grandmother and mother prepare all of Justine's favorite food. Nothing boiled, Justine had written. She was sick of boiled food. For her first meal home, she wanted pork roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, fried okra, sliced tomatoes fresh from the garden, cole slaw, and corn bread -- with chocolate cake and apple pie for dessert. And please have a watermelon chilled. She hadn't tasted watermelon for two whole summers. Martha Claire decided to cut back the petunias, which had gotten leggy. The lantana and periwinkles were in full bloom, though. Across the yard, the magnolia tree was laden with huge, waxy blossoms, and the stand of crepe myrtle was a mass of pink. The freshly painted gazebo and the picket fence around Mother's rose garden shimmered whitely in the sunshine. It was a beautiful yard -- one of the finest in Columbus, as was the house, which had been built by Martha Claire's great-great-grandfather. Had Justine missed any of this? Martha Claire wondered as she surveyed their childhood home -- the place she herself loved best on this earth. What letters her sister had found time to write described the wonder of being in London, of meeting people from everywhere, of doing her small part for the war effort. If she wrote about the war itself, it was only to complain about the hours spent in bomb shelters. Only at the end would she dash off a few words about missing her family back home. Grayson's letters, on the other hand, had been mostly about missing her, words that Martha Claire would read over and over again. Of course, if he wrote anything about where he was or what he was doing, the censors would mark it out. Now that the war was over, however, her husband's letters were more about human tragedy than longing. His unit was involved in the repatriation of prisoners liberated from the concentration camp at Dachau. He was overwhelmed with the horror they had found there, overwhelmed with the task at hand but dedicated to it -- passionately so. He did not know when he was coming home. Martha Claire tried not to be resentful. She had seen pictures of those poor souls in the newsreels -- living skeletons in filthy rags with empty eyes -- ghastly pictures that made her look away. But her husband had been gone for three endless years, and his father wasn't well. It was time for Grayson to take over the family store. It was time for him to make a home with his wife and put the war behind him. Martha Claire wondered what Justine planned to do now that the war was over. Their parents hoped their younger daughter would settle down in Columbus -- or at least someplace not too far away. That's what Martha Claire wanted, too, her sister close by, if not in Columbus, then no farther away than Houston, where Justine had worked in a photography studio before enlisting in the Women's Army Corps. Martha Claire had missed her sister as much as she had missed her husband, in some ways more. She was always thinking of things she wanted to tell Justine. Sometimes she even had imaginary conversations with her sister. Her body longed for her husband, but she had a hard time imagining conversations with him. Grayson was only a year older than she was, but she felt as though she had been frozen in time while he had grown older. And sadder. More serious. Martha had been Grayson's wife for three years and one month, but she still lived with her parents, still had no home of her own, still didn't feel like a wife. Everything in her hope chest was brand-new. Their wedding gifts were still in their boxes. The only time she had shared a bed with her husband had been on their honeymoon and the few weekends they had together before he shipped out. But surely by next summer she would have her own house and garden, she told herself as she returned to her weeding. And a baby on the way. Oh, yes, definitely a baby on the way. Justine had always claimed that she would never get married, never be any man's wife, never belong to anyone but herself. Martha Claire would smile knowingly at her sister's remarks. She knew that deep in every girl's heart she longed to have a man love her enough to stay with her always and have children with her. Sometimes Martha Claire worried that Grayson no longer loved her in that special way. Maybe he had been gone too long and seen too much. At least, a girl didn't have to worry about her sister not loving her. No matter what, she and Justine would always be sisters, would always have each other. Martha Claire began making mental lists of all the things she wanted to do with Justine. Loll on the beach on Galveston Island. Float the river. Make a pan of fudge and eat it all themselves. Visit their high school friends. Ride the bus to Houston for a day of shopping. And she wanted to crawl into her sister's bed late at night when the house was dark and their parents and Granny Grace were asleep. That's when she and Justine always had the best talks. Whispering made it more fun, more private. Sometimes, they had even shared a pirated bottle of their daddy's homemade beer and smoked a clandestine cigarette while they imagined the time when they would be rich and famous and return to Columbus to visit the home folks in furs and diamonds, riding in a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce. "Caught you daydreaming, didn't I?" her grandmother's voice said from the porch. Martha Claire shaded her eyes and look up at her grandmother, who was smiling down at her and holding two glasses of lemonade. Martha Claire scrambled to her feet and wiped the sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand. "How does it look?" she asked, stepping back to survey her handiwork. "Pretty as a picture. Now, come up here in the shade and have a glass of lemonade with your granny. Can you believe that this time next week we'll have our Justine back home with us!" Martha Claire sat with her grandmother in the newly varnished wicker chairs. "The place hasn't looked this good since your wedding day," Granny Grace said. "Gracious, how we scurried around when you decided that you just had to marry Grayson before he reported for duty!" "Do you think Justine will stay in Columbus?" Martha Claire asked. "Now, don't you go getting your heart set on that sister of yours comin' home to roost," Grace warned her granddaughter. "After two and a half years in London, with all those palaces and people from all over the world, I expect our little town is going to seem pretty small and countrified. But this is where her heart is, honey. Justine will always need to come back home from time to time -- to remember who she is." Copyright © 2000 Judith Henry Wall, Inc.. All rights reserved.

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