In the Hope of Rising Again

Written by Helen Scully
Review by Marcia K. Matthews

Part One, The Father, begins with “Epithalamium” (nuptial song). The ethereal narrative voice describes a young couple, Charles and Regina, settling into a rural cabin. It evokes the slowness of life in the South in 1919. The next chapter, “Pax Mobilia” (peace in Mobile) takes us back to the end of the Civil War when Regina’s father Colonel Riant inherited the Mobile Chronicle. His business enterprises made him wealthy. Mother Riant spoiled her four sons but resented her daughter, who had a special relationship with the Colonel. Regina and he share a feeling for the metaphysical. He remembers his dear departed who have gone to their rest “in the hope of rising again.” His sons are indistinguishable, confirmed bachelors too indolent to run a business. The themes of family and spirituality are brought out in lyrical passages such as a description of the wedding: “They moved like puppets in a dream.”

The nursemaid, Camilla, thinks “Every girl baby needs two mothers, a black one and a white one.” She remains faithful to Regina, who treats her as an equal in good times and bad.

Regina is a good woman who endures all of life’s vicissitudes without losing her compassion for others. At times Scully gives a viewpoint to another character, but only to add a dimension. Her sentences are like soap bubbles. She juggles words to show the delicacy of feelings in a dialog, then limns a horrific scene of gore. This is an amazing achievement for a young author’s first novel.