Tuesday, April 8th 2014
New Dominion Bookshop
Set in Charlottesville Virginia during the 1960’s, Apron Strings is an extraordinary debut novel of life in the south and the bonds that existed between black and white. Mary Morony’s lyrical and rich prose weaves in and out of the present and the past to create a narrative that is a tough and unflinching look at a small southern town in a turbulent time.
Told in the clear strong voices of Sallee, a precocious nine-year old and Ethel, her family’s black maid, Apron Strings tells the complex story of a southern family that is breaking apart. Sallee is the child of a strong but dysfunctional mother who is as much a victim of a segregated south as her maid and a loving ‘outsider’ father who is ready to challenge the existing order, both socially and economically, to succeed in the coming new era. Ethel comes from a large, loving family that has struggled to survive in a world where “whites only” was a common sign. The narrators tell their stories from each of their perspectives, with only hints of the social unrest that is occurring throughout the south, but an unrest that clearly affects their lives as their stories unfold.
As her parents’ marriage unwinds, Sallee and her brother and sisters are left in the care of their cold and abusive mother. She finds comfort and love in the kitchen, the domain of Ethel, the black maid who rules the household with complete power, much to the ire of racist whites in town. Ethel knows everyone’s secrets and keeps them to herself, but some secrets can no longer be kept hidden. As Sallee struggles to understand the unraveling of her family while coping with her feelings of abandonment and grief, she begins to realize that there may not always be happy endings but love, coming from the least expected places, is all she needs to keep hope alive.
Mary Morony creates a compelling narrative filled with a broad range of characters, skillfully drawn, who come alive as we follow their stories, revealing the deep ties that bind them to each other. Apron Strings is about loss and struggle but also recovery and survival. More importantly it is about family, our need for one and where we need to go to find it.
Biography: Mary Morony is one of six children. She was born and raised in Charlottesville, Virginia, mainly by her family’s maid. It was a time and place of segregated schools and water fountains, as well as restaurants and movie theaters that prohibited black customers. The mother of four children, she earned a bachelor of arts in English at the University of Virginia, with a concentration in creative writing, when she was in her forties. Morony was inspired to write Apron Strings by the relationship she was privileged to have with her family’s maid, who taught her love and acceptance with warmth, humor, and unending patience. The author lives on a farm in Orange County, Virginia, with her husband, four dogs, and her daughter’s cat.
For more information, contact Mitzi Ware, firstname.lastname@example.org