Praise Jerusalem!: A Novel

By: Trobaugh, Augusta

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Praise Jerusalem!: A Novel by Trobaugh, Augusta
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Grand Rapids, Mich. Baker Pub Group 1997. 8vo hardcover 285pp. fine / fine d/w. Praise Jerusalem! spans a few vital weeks in the lives of three elderly Southern women who have been thrust into a concerted effort to find their "New Jerusalem" - a utopia of heavenly perfection. In this case, however, it is the small town of Jerusalem, Georgia, to which the women journey, each expecting to find happiness at last. But to find their utopia, they must overcome the social and racial estrangements that isolate them from each other. Mamie Johnson, an African-American woman who is fleeing from an abusive relationship, desires an existence in which she will be free not only from abuse but also from centuries-old racial stereotypes. Maybelline, in exquisitely polite Southern terms, "has not had advantages," but despite her lack of "good blood," formal education, or fine manners, she determinedly pursues a course of service to the others. Miss Amelia, a small-town dowager who finds herself suddenly bereft of the social and economic security she has enjoyed all her life, makes a dual journey - one in the company of Mamie and Maybelline, and another, more reluctant journey back in memory to a summer of her childhood.nnPublisher's Weekly - CahnersPublishers_WeeklynTrobaugh takes her shot at that nameless genre in which persnickety elderly white Southern ladies come, late in life, to insights that had long eluded them. Widowed and astringent, Miss Amelia wrestles with the dilemma of her finances, whose dwindling does not accord with the elevated position she occupies in her small Georgia community. Her relatives and contemporaries are all dead, so even if she sells her lovely old family home, she has nowhere to go. Her only offer of a place to live is an abandoned home in Jerusalem, Ga., which once belonged to her housemate Maybelline's grandfather. Maybelline herself is a maddeningly well-intentioned woman of dubious breeding and tacky taste through whom the Lord speaks loudly and often. Amelia, whose relationship with the Lord is one of polite disbelief, has no alternative but to go along with the plan. Worse, with increasing frequency, she's found herself slipping back in time to a childhood summer. Fearing senility, lapsing in and out of the present, Amelia reexamines her past, finally accessing a place in her heart deeper than the detached civility she has so long presented to the world. As her story reveals more of Amelia's haunting past, Trobaugh weaves a tale of a sensitive child struggling with the dilemma of a segregated South, who's finally being shown the way to grace and faith by those with even fewer rights than a child has-i.e. black women, the blind, the mute and the poor. If sometimes the atmosphere is too thick with mystery and wonder and grace and faith, Trobaugh grounds her rich first novel with salty dialogue and earthy realism.nnPublisher's WeeklynTrobaugh takes her shot at that nameless genre in which persnickety elderly white Southern ladies come, late in life, to insights that had long eluded them. Widowed and astringent, Miss Amelia wrestles with the dilemma of her finances, whose dwindling does not accord with the elevated position she occupies in her small Georgia community. Her relatives and contemporaries are all dead, so even if she sells her lovely old family home, she has nowhere to go. Her only offer of a place to live is an abandoned home in Jerusalem, Ga., which once belonged to her housemate Maybelline's grandfather. Maybelline herself is a maddeningly well-intentioned woman of dubious breeding and tacky taste through whom the Lord speaks loudly and often. Amelia, whose relationship with the Lord is one of polite disbelief, has no alternative but to go along with the plan. Worse, with increasing frequency, she's found herself slipping back in time to a childhood summer. Fearing senility, lapsing in and out of the present, Amelia reexamines her past, finally accessing a place in her heart deeper than the detached civility she has so long presente .

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