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Any Given Day

New or Used: 7 copies from $12.12
In this memoir, Jessie Lee Brown Foveaux reveals what life was like when she was growing up in America in the early-20th century. The book continues on through her girlhood and womanhood in the years of the Great Depression.
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At age 98, Foveaux became a celebrity when her creative-writing teacher in her hometown of Manhattan, Kans., sent her memoir‘which had been circulating among family and friends for 20 years‘to the Wall Street Journal. The resulting feature story led to a $1 million book contract for her. And although her autobiography doesn't have the savvy or delightful sassiness of, say, the Delaney sisters, and there are many boring pages, it is imbued with Foveaux's rectitude and integrity. Her recollections of her childhood are idyllic Americana, redolent of the era of the surrey with a fringe on top, box suppers at the schoolhouse, daddies who were, as she puts it, "steady and strong," mothers, prim in jabots, tatting lacework. There wasn't much money, but nobody went hungry either. Foveaux's adult years, however, were marked with misery and courage. When her fiancé was killed in WWI, she drifted into marriage with Bill Foveaux in 1919, who, after fathering six kids in seven years, became an alcoholic. "How I hate him!" she writes. "This man has ruined my life." Ultimately, she got a divorce, worked at whatever jobs were available, from selling cosmetics door-to-door to operating a mangle at a laundry. And there the drama ends, followed by countless tedious pages given over to individual messages to Foveaux's grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Though some readers may enjoy the opportunity to "set for a spell" with the author, many will question her publisher's decision not to edit the book. Photos. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club featured alternates; TV option to Hallmark for a miniseries; available as a Time Warner AudioBook. (Nov).

Foveaux started writing stories about her life for a senior citizens' writing group when she was 80 years old. Now that she is 98, they are being published. Her account reveals a woman who stoically faced much adversity. She saw horse-drawn carriages give way to automobiles, worked for the war effort during both world wars, and survived an abusive marriage to an alcoholic husband while raising eight children during the Depression. Though the book has no high drama or real plot, lacks cadence, and could stand some additional editing and proofreading, readers will find much wisdom and truth in Foveaux's insights. Recommended for public libraries. [Foveaux was profiled on 60 Minutes.‘Ed.]‘Susan Dearstyne, Hudson Valley Community Coll., Troy, N.Y.

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