Braselton, Jeanne 1962-2003

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BRASELTON, Jeanne 1962-2003

PERSONAL:

Born 1962, in Fort Oglethorpe, GA; died March 30, 2003, in Rome, GA; adopted daughter of Charles Eldon (a machinist and writer) and Rosalee (a homemaker; maiden name, Logan) Ingram; married Albert Braselton (a poet), deceased, 2002. Education: Berry College, B.S., 1983. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, watching movies, listening to music, playing with family pets, and visiting family.

CAREER:

Reporter and editor at Rome News-Tribune; commercial bank marketing executive; writer.

MEMBER:

Board of Directors of the Rome Area Council for the Arts.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Georgia Press Association Award; Best First Novel, Georgia Writers Association, 2002, for A False Sense of Well Being.

WRITINGS:

A False Sense of Well Being, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2001.

SIDELIGHTS:

Georgia native Jeanne Braselton enrolled in a creative writing class that led her to correspond with a number of well-known regional writers, including Kaye Gibbons, Lee Smith, William Styron, Ellen Gilchrist, Anne Rivers Siddons, and Charles Frazier. With their encouragement and influence, Braselton wrote A False Sense of Well Being, a debut novel that centers on Jessie Maddox and her marriage to Turner, a loving but boring man. After suffering a miscarriage, Jessie becomes obsessed with her husband's death, and finds herself thinking about his demise and the many ways it could be brought about. Stunned and somewhat taken aback by her daydreams, she realizes that something is missing in her genteel life, and, after eleven years of marriage, decides to take off on her own in search of meaning. Her journey takes her home to Randolph Gap, Alabama, where her parents live. What she discovers there is a past she never quite left behind, and a future she has never allowed herself to fully embrace.

The novel is a commentary on people's expectations of marriage, among other things. In an interview in Bookbitch, Braselton explained her interest in this theme. "I think many women dream of having [the perfect marriage and home]. The problems start when your real life doesn't match the romantic expectations you might have had about marriage. A good marriage takes real work. It's the day-to-day intimacy that keeps a marriage alive—and both Jessie and Turner have forgotten that."

Although Braselton denies that the novel is autobiographical, elements from her own life are woven throughout the storyline. For instance, Braselton had several miscarriages throughout her marriage, the last one just one month before she wrote the miscarriage scene in the novel. "After I finished the scene, I sat down and cried for about an hour," Braselton noted in the interview.

On a lighter note, the title came directly from the warning label of a medication Braselton was taking. It read, in part, "This medication may induce a false sense of well being." In her interview, Braselton explained, "My husband and I joked that 'A False Sense of Well Being' would make a great title for something, though we didn't know what."

Characteristic of most Southern fiction, A False Sense of Well Being comes alive with larger-than-life, complex characters, in this case restless, pre-midlife women. These Southern women are bored and disappointed with the lives they find themselves living, and they aim to do something about it. Rebecca Sturm Kelm, writing in Library Journal, called the book "regional fiction at its best."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 15, 2001, Brad Hooper, review of A False Sense of Well Being, p. 551.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2001, review of A False Sense of Well Being, p. 1044.

Library Journal, September 1, 2001, Rebecca Sturm Kelm, review of A False Sense of Well Being, p. 230.

Publishers Weekly, August 6, 2001, review of A False Sense of Well Being, p. 58.

ONLINE

Bookbitch,http://www.bookbitch.com/ (March 7, 2002), "A Conversation with Jeanne Braselton."

Bookreporter,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (January 8, 2002), review of A False Sense of Well Being.

Chelsea Forum,http://www.chelseaforum.com/ (March 7, 2002), review of A False Sense of Well Being.

Decatur Daily,http://www.decaturdaily.com/ (November 25, 2001), Angi Gay, "Even the Perfect Life Does Not Result in Contentment," review of A False Sense of Well Being.

Georgia Writers Association,http://www.georgiawriters.org/ (October 16, 2003), obituary of Jeanne Braselton.

Squarebooks,http://www.squarebooks.com/ (January 8, 2002), review of A False Sense of Well Being.*