Families & Survivors

Adams, Alice. Families & Survivors. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1975.

Reason read: Alice Adams was born in the month of August. Yes, a completely boring reason to read Adams. I know.

This is the story of Louise from 1941 to 1971. We first meet Louise as a precocious teenager poolside with her best friend, Kate. As her story moves languidly through the years we watch Louise get married, have a child, have affairs, struggle with self-image and artistry and of course, grow older. Along the way we see both sides of wealth, both sides of ambition, both sides of a Southern versus Yankee culture.
Something to get used to – Adams includes a lot of parenthetic information. I found it to be a little distracting at first. And oddly enough, for the first ten years the perspective is third person about Louise then there is a switch to first person Maude, Louise’s daughter. Coming to that point was like unexpectedly hitting a speed bump in the center of town.

As an aside, another thing I was distracted by was the number of times Adams mentions the out-of-date shape of Louise’s pool.

Book trivia: Families and Survivors is Nancy Pearl’s favorite book from Adams. I found an interesting enough book but I can’t say it was my favorite. All in all I thought it was a book about growing older from the perspective of different couples. Once they all got divorced and remarried I found the characters little confusing to keep track of.

Author fact: Families and Survivors was, and still is, Adams’s first novel.

BookLust Twist: from the very first chapter in Book Lust, “A…My Name is Alice” (p 1). As an aside, because of the show Major Crimes, whenever I hear the name “Alice” I think of Rusty’s quest to find a Jane Doe they called Alice.



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