Scully, Helen 1977–
Scully, Helen 1977–
PERSONAL: Born 1977, in Norfolk, VA. Education: Graduated from Brown University, 1999.
CAREER: Worked in publishing, New York, NY, 1999–2001; Barcelona Metropolitan, Barcelona, Spain, art columnist, 2001.
In the Hope of Rising Again, Penguin (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: For the subject of her debut novel, In the Hope of Rising Again, Helen Scully chose her own great-grandmother, Regina Rapier Marston. As she explained in an interview posted on her home page, Marston's "life was fraught with financial ruin and the untimely deaths of both her husband and several of her children. But as my grandmother … would say, 'If you're going to write about the South, for heaven's sake, don't make it dismal like some do. There is so much more to the South than that.'"
The novel's main character is Regina, but the over-whelming presence is Regina's father, Colonel Riant, a Civil War veteran whose exploits grow more heroic with each retelling and whose fortune could easily sustain the family. Unfortunately, the girl's "four buffoonish brothers … see their inheritance less as an honor than as a right, and squander it on half-baked schemes," in the words of a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Regina goes through an affair with a Chinese scientist, a sudden marriage to an unstable timber plantation owner that turns out badly, and the death of a child. Through it all she has the consolation of her wise and compassionate black maid, Camilla. While these tragedies play out, culminating in the family's near ruin during the Great Depression, Scully maintains a light touch in keeping with her grandmother's admonition, and it all works out in the end. A Kirkus Reviews contributor found that "the pretentious prose is as enervating as the climate." In contrast, however, Booklist reviewer Carol Haggas commended the novel as "imaginative and enchanting, incisive and engaging" and actually "reminiscent of works by the giants of southern fiction."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 2004, Carol Haggas, review of In the Hope of Rising Again, p. 1820.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2004, review of In the Hope of Rising Again, p. 515.
New Leader, May-June, 2004, Janice P. Nimura, "Southern Discomfort," p. 38.
Publishers Weekly, July 5, 2004, review of In the Hope of Rising Again, p. 38.
Bookreporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (April 14, 2005), Norah Piehl, review of In the Hope of Rising Again.
Helen Scully Home Page, http://www.helenmscully.com (April 14, 2005).