Monday, March 23, 2015

Guest post from Mary Morony, author of Apron Strings

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Apron Strings Title: Apron Strings
Author: Mary Morony
Publisher: Mary Morony
Pages: 252
Genre: Literary Fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle/Audio

 When a grown-up tells you not to worry, you had better start—first rule of thumb, Sallee Mackey, age seven. She is already more than a little bit wary of the adults in her segregated, Southern world with good reason. Sallee’s mother Ginny is flat out dangerous; her father Joe is on his way out the door; and Mr. Dabney the bigoted neighbor seems to be just a little too interested with the goings on at Sallee’s house—like he knows something no one else does. The only adult to be trusted is Ethel, the family maid, who has known Sallee’s mother since Ethel and Ginny were both girls. That complicated relationship started the day Ethel spied Ginny kissing the black stable boy years ago. While Ginny has conveniently forgotten that she even knew Ethel back then, Sallee has not as she constantly lobs questions at Ethel about her mother’s girlhood. From Sallee’s oft times humorous and always guileless vantage, grownups have a most mixed up view of the world. Ethel gives her very own biased account of her shared history with Ginny while Sallee hones her vigilance and stealth, skills she and her brother and two sisters have acquired in an attempt to understand the drama that swirls around them. Rocks are thrown through windows, a car filled with angry white men shout racial slurs at the children at play and a tragic poisoning threatens the entire family’s sense of security. When Joe Mackey asks Ethel to testify on his behalf in a custody suit, her conflicted loyalties throw the entire family into even more turmoil. Fortunately for Sallee no one took the time to teach her to hate a person based on the skin color.

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Life has a way of folding back on it self. I love that about it. Thirty-five years ago pregnant, recently widowed I was dragged to an art show luncheon by a well-meaning friend. “Come, please! Getting out will do you good,” she wheedled. I finally acquiesced in order to save my sanity and the friendship, since it was obvious she wasn’t going to stop until I did. While we lunched, the conversation drifted to a promising artist who had died young. I made the remark that the good tended to that. At which point, the gallery owner and my host said, in a most hail-fellow-well-met bonhomie manner that some men have with each other, “Well, if that’s the case...” As if by design and the way with these sorts of moments, silence descended like a shroud as he said, “that son a of a bitch you married to will live forever.” The sucking in of a collective breath was the only sound as time stopped for the briefest of milliseconds. I started to laugh until a solicitous luncheon companion at my host’s elbow whispered in his ear the details of his faux pas. The flush that enveloped the unfortunate soul was truly epic. I wanted to crawl across the table and hug the man. Thank him for the insight because until that point, I thought I was the only person capable of making a social interaction so excruciatingly awkward. I can’t remember how we extradited our pride, and ourselves but we did, because as my friend said, “Life goes on.” Thirty-five years later my youngest daughter called me bubbling over about her new job in a gallery.  I bet you can’t guess whose.

Mary Morony
Mary Morony author of Apron Strings is one of six children. She was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and had the good fortune of being raised by her family’s maid Lottie. She taught me love and acceptance with warm, loving humor and unending patience. It was a time and place of segregated schools and water fountains, as well as restaurants and movie theaters that prohibited black customers. She remembers the hurled epithets and smashed windows of a society boiling in hatred. Besides five siblings she had four children of her own. As if that didn't provide sufficient material about family chaos, at the age of forty-something, with a high school daughter and a four-year-old girl still at home, she decided to get a college degree. Mary likes to say she earned, and she does mean earned, a bachelors of arts in English at the University of Virginia, with a concentration in creative writing. More recently she has pursued additional studies under the tutelage of her seven-year-old granddaughter. Her refresher course in childhood perspective was invaluable in writing this book. The author lives on a farm in Orange County, Virginia, with her husband, four dogs, and her daughter’s cat. Mary says, “The relationship I was privileged to experience taught me much about the human heart and the redemptive power of love, especially between races.”

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