Landscapes of the Heart: A Memoir (Voices of the South)

by Elizabeth Spencer

Paperback, 2003

Call number




LSU Press (2003), Edition: 1, 368 pages


With charm and vivid detail, the acclaimed novelist Elizabeth Spencer acquaints readers with the places and people, the pleasures and heartaches, she has known in her life. From her idyllic childhood in small-town Mississippi onward, a questioning spirit and voracity for reading and writing shape Spencer's course: her formal and informal educations at Vanderbilt and in Rome, Florence, New York, and Montreal, and her break with the culturally rigid segregated society from which she sprang; her friendships with such great writers as Eudora Welty, Saul Bellow, John Cheever, and Robert Penn Warren; and her own many remarkable literary successes. A deeply affecting memoir by an esteemed American author, Landscapes of the Heart reveals Spencer to be both a part of and forever apart from her beloved southern roots.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member froxgirl
I've read some E. Spencer short stories and "The Light in the Piazza", which I thought was just about perfect. This memoir is just packed with life and with loud regrets and quiet triumphs. Spencer grew up in an old Southern slave owning family, yet the weight of the Civil War and living with
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segregation seems to weigh way too lightly on her privileged childhood. She tells one hideous anecdote about a woman who worked for the family who was beaten with a stick pierced through with nails. Her father put the woman on a train, just sent her away, and nothing was ever said. Unbelievable, or more sadly, too believable. She later wrote a novel called "The Voice at the Back Door" which alienated both sides of her Mississippi family.

She lived in Rome, Paris, Canada, and finally tried returning to the South but was not welcomed and could not hack Southern life as an adult. She learned and grew. One glorious part of the book is her strong friendship with Eudora Welty. Truly an author to love and a woman to admire. Excellent memoir, and she writes on!
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