January 26, 2018

Looking Back - Sights Unseen

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

Sights Unseen by Kaye Gibbons
Published November 1st 1996 by Avon (first published January 1st 1995)
Finished in July 1997
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Kaye Gibbons' award-winning novels of Southern family life have won rave reviews coast to coast. Now, she tells the "story of family dislocation and crisis in restrained prose of unflinching clarity, with a honing eye for the small domestic details that conjure a time, place and emotional atmosphere." (Publishers Weekly)

To the people of Bend of the River Road, Maggie Barnes is "the Barnes woman with all the problems." To her family, she is the unpredictable wife, elusive mother, and adored daughter-in-law, and to her maid, Pearl, she is the mistress who must be cared for like a child.

Between the suicidal lows and delirious highs, young Hattie Barnes struggles to find a place in her mother's heart. She observes her mother's vain attempts at normalcy, and then watches as she is driven off to the hospital psychiatric ward. Only later will Hattie discover the deep-seated hopes and fears of the woman she loves unconditionally, and her inevitable connection to her family's past.

In heartfelt and potent prose, through Hattie's hushed voice, Sights Unseen tells the story of a troubled relationship and the courage it takes to see it through.

My Original Notes (1997):

Good, but not great. A quick read, but not light. Heavy theme - mentally ill woman with two children and a husband. Told from daughter's perspective. Depressing. Southern family. Hattie, Maggie's daughter, is desperate for a normal mother who will love her.

My Current Thoughts:

This is the fifth and final book by Kaye Gibbons that I read in 1997. All were read within just a couple of months of each other and the details of this particular novel are long forgotten. It sure sounds pretty bleak!


  1. Did I read this one? Can't remember and don't want to go look it up. Seems like many of us read a lot of books sort of like this at that time. Think that was when my husband coined his phrase 'dead baby book' and said he could tell when I had been reading one - as I was depressed afterwards for days. He told me I should always read my 'nice murder' books. LOL

    1. Kay, I think 1997-1998 was the period of time when Oprah's books were very popular, but also very similar in theme. Lots of depressing topics. (Almost sprayed my coffee all over my laptop as I read what Hayden had to say!) LOL


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