Readers who can’t wait to get their hands on Harper Lee’s “new” book Go Set a Watchman can’t be expected to go bookless until July. Whet their appetites for tales of a southern daughter’s return by recommending Eudora Welty’s 1972 Pulitzer Prize winning The Optimist’s Daughter.
Laurel Hand comes home to visit her father, Judge McKelva, as he recovers from eye surgery. Sadly, he never fully recovers and Laurel must accompany Fay, her much younger stepmother, to her father’s hometown of Mount Salus, Mississippi, for the funeral. This slender book touches on all the things that Welty wrote about so well—a sense of place, memory, morality, identity, and community. And, there is a sad, dark humor that will make you bark with laughter at the most inappropriate times. For fans twentieth-century southern fiction, this is an unforgettable must-read.