Gail Godwin's Flora
paints a psychological portrait that is at once detailed and deceptive. The year is 1945, and we see the events of one pivotal summer through the eyes of Helen, an analytical narrator who is only ten years old. Helen couches her tale in the language of a mind still growing into itself, a perspective that is naively self-absorbed and precociously articulate in equal measure. Helen is coming of age alone with only her new caregiver, Flora, for company. They live in the North Carolina hills in a rambling house that was once a private sanatorium. Helen thinks she understands how the adult world works, even as she discovers she is missing some of the most crucial facts.
Godwin has stripped her stage of extraneous characters and sets. Helen has recently lost the beloved grandmother, Nonie, who raised her, and her father has been called away to do...
Beyond the Book
In the fictional North Carolina mountain town at the heart of Gail Godwin's Flora
, a 1945 polio scare takes the life of one child and paralyzes another while the community scrambles to contain the disease. These tragedies, which form part of the cultural fabric of Godwin's fictional world, echo real events that took place in rural North Carolina in the 1940s, when the polio epidemic was peaking there. In 1944, the mountain town of Hickory, NC, experienced a devastating polio outbreak. When local...