Cover image for Old dogs and children
Old dogs and children
Inman, Robert, 1943-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Boston : Little, Brown, [1991]

Physical Description:
447 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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In the author's second novel, we are introduced to Bright Birdsong, a woman of great strength and character who now, in her later years, reflects back on her life, struggling to put into perspective the choices she has made.

Author Notes

Robert Inman was the TV anchorman on the number one station in Charlotte for 25 years. He lives in Charlotte and Boone, North Carolina.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The author of Home Fires Burning [BKL Ja 15 87] has created another unforgettable southern tale inhabited by warm, striking characters, such as Bright Birdsong and her best friend, Flavo Richardson. The novel opens as the town Bright has lived in all of her life prepares for Fitzhugh Birdsong Day in honor of her son, the governor, who is running for reelection. Throughout the story, Inman reaches back into Bright's six decades, blending past and present with the same potent beauty displayed in his first novel. We see Bright as a young girl visiting her father's sawmill, working at his side on a camp house, playing music, and being assured by her dad that he could solve everything. He couldn't, of course, but his inspiration has compelled Bright to make commitments and forge community change, especially regarding civil rights. Inman is a consummate storyteller. ~--Denise Perry Donavin

Publisher's Weekly Review

Looking back on her life, which she has spent in the small Southern town where first her lumberman father, then her congressman husband and now her son, the governor, have been the community's leading citizens, 68-year-old Bright Birdsong is bitter and disappointed. In the course of this leisurely, absorbing novel by the author of Home Fires Burning , Bright will first come to grips with her resentment that she has ``largely defined herself by her responsibilities'' and eventually admit that her own domineering qualities have had a large role in the development of her family and community relationships. Having chosen loyalty to her adored father over that to her husband--whom she refused to join in Washington, much to their children's emotional detriment--Bright has been a benefactor to the town. She has battled prejudice on behalf of the black community, and again does so when called upon by the son of the black woman who raised her. Other events conspiring to reengage Bright with life are the visit of her 10-year-old grandson, a $50,000 windfall, exposure of her son's philandering and a confrontation with her hostile daughter. Inman has a clear-eyed but compassionate understanding of the social fabric of the South and a feel for family dynamics. Although two sequences defy credibility--Bright's mother's vindictive reaction to a sexual episode, and the gratuitous inclusion of FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in the narrative--the novel is a nicely textured character study seen against a vividly realized setting. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Fans of Olive A. Burns's Cold Sassy Tree ( LJ 10/15/84) and Ferrol Sams's Run with the Horsemen (Peachtree, 1982) will love this deft fictional blend of past and present. Making use of artfully constructed flashbacks, Inman ( Home Fires Burning , LJ 12/15/86) allows readers to live alongside protagonist Bright Birdsong during her 68 years in a small Southern town. Her story reminds us that mistakes are a part of life, correcting them both an obligation and an opportunity. A page-turner whose subtleties make it well worth savoring at leisure, this entertaining book is recommended for general collections.--Dorothy Golden, Georgia Southern Univ., Statesboro (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.