The Moonflower Vine
Harper, Mar 24 2009, $14.99
In the 1950s near Renfro, Missouri, retired teacher Matthew Soames, his wife Callie, three of their adult daughters and their one grandson gather at the family farm. Each is happy to see one another.
The youngest daughter Mary Jo is a TV producer living in New York City; she hates to come home to the dirt of Missouri. The oldest child Jessica feels good about her life though her father feels her choices were stupid as he believes she could have been much more. The patriarch Matthew feels the world is passing him by as he wants to go beyond Missouri to see firsthand what he reads; but feels strongly he could never leave Callie behind. Though he hides his anger, Matthew believes his out of control daughter Mathy is God punishing him for his transgressions; his salvation he feels lies with her son. His other adult child Leonie is the one who most honors her parents by obeying their demands; however she loves a man her father will reject if asked. Callie is the oddity amongst the five as an illiterate who adheres strictly to late nineteenth century morality as if two world wars never occurred.
This is a reprint of an early 1960s family drama that captured the essence of living in Missouri in the 1950s. The story line is character driven as the audience obtains mostly through Mary Jo’s observations how each of the others perceive their respective lives; ironically Mary Jo has no section to call her own, but her lens cutting across the family brings her into focus. In some ways a novella collection as each member has their own chapter; THE MOONFLOWER VINE is a fascinating mid twentieth century historical tale.