The Optimist's Daughter (Vintage International) (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Eudora Welty's bittersweet account of the demise of an influential Southern gentleman and the effects of his death upon his family is one of my favorite books. Judge McKelva was a force to be reckoned with in the small town in Mississippi where he and his first wife raised their daughter. Laurel had long since left home to pursue a career in Chicago. When she returns for her father's last days and his funeral, she has to deal with the Judge's second wife. Fay is a painfully uncultured young woman who, Laurel begins to wonder, must have only seemed attractive to her father because of his loneliness and failing eyesight. By turns funny and moving. Ms. Welty is a towering presence even in an area of the country that has given America some of its best writers. — Alden Graves

A quiet triumph. The relationship between narrative voice and protagonist is incredibly subtle and refined...and the END!...If you haven't read Welty, this is a great place to start. — Parke Haskell


This Pulitzer Prize–winning novel tells the story of Laurel McKelva Hand, a young woman who has left the South and returns, years later, to New Orleans, where her father is dying. After his death, she and her silly young stepmother go back still farther, to the small Mississippi town where she grew up. Along in the old house, Laurel finally comes to an understanding of the past, herself, and her parents.

About the Author

Eudora Welty was born in Jackson, Mis-sissippi, in 1909. She was educated locally and at Mississippi State College for Women, the University of Wisconsin, and the Columbia University Graduate School of Business. Her short stories appeared in The Southern Review, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s Bazaar, The New Yorker, and other magazines. She lectured at a number of colleges, held the William Allan Neilson professorship at Smith and the Lucy Donnelly Fellowship at Bryn Mawr, and was a lecturer at the Conference of American Studies at Cambridge University. She worked under grants from the Rockefeller and Merrill foundations and the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and held a Guggenheim Fellow-ship. She was given honorary degrees from Smith, the University of Wisconsin, Western College for Women, Denison University, the University of the South at Sewanee, and Millsaps College in Jackson. She also received the M. Carey Thomas Award from Bryn Mawr, the Brandeis Medal of Achievement, and the Hollins Medal; her novel The Ponder Heart was awarded the Howells Medal for Fiction by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Eudora Welty died in 2001.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780679728832
ISBN-10: 067972883X
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: August 11th, 1990
Pages: 192
Language: English
Series: Vintage International