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Roxanna Slade

It’s probably inevitable that, as we near the end of the century, novels will appear with centenarians at their center; the chance to tell the story of the last hundred years through a life that spanned them is simply too neat to pass up. And so it is with Roxanna Slade, the 28th work from Reynolds Price, bard of the Southern backwoods. If Price’s choice of heroine is unsurprising, his choice of subject matter is not: Instead of taking his main character, 94-year-old Roxanna, to the front of world wars and the heart of the technological revolution, he leaves her relatively uninformed, as typical of her time and place (rural North Carolina) as one could imagine. The epiphanies and upsets of her life are wholly personal. It’s a life that is quiet — and quietly enthralling. B+

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