September 17, 2006
The Optimist's Daughter
The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty
Rating: C (3/10 Ho-hum)
The Optimist’s Daughter is the story of Laurel McKelva Hand, a young woman who has left the South and returns, years later, to New Orleans, where her father is dying. After his death, she and her silly young stepmother go back still farther, to the small Mississippi town where she grew up. Alone in the old house, Laurel finally comes to an understanding of the past, herself, and her parents.
“The best book Eudora Welty has ever written.” - The New York Times Book Review
It seems a bit sacrilegious for me to give such a low rating to an esteemed author. (And to a Pulitzer Prize winning book, to boot!) But unfortunately, The Optimist’s Daughter didn’t do a thing for me. I didn’t find Welty’s prose lyrical or evocative. The plot, such that it was, was dull and unremarkable. I found it difficult to care about any of the main characters and the supporting cast failed to come to life, forcing me to flip back and forth in an attempt to refresh my memory as to who was who.
On a positive note, I didn’t hate the novel and would like to give Ms. Welty another chance. (Pretty big of me, eh?) I have a lovely copy of The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty and should think that out of 41 stories, I might come across one or two that will leave me with a better appreciation of this author’s works.