I have a book that describes what it was like for a woman growing up in the 1950's and how she fought to gain her freedom. The book is Beneath the Shadow of Crows written by Madelon Phillips.
Mattie Collins, age eighteen, marries her third husband, a forty-year-old man she mistakenly believes she knows. When his mind-games begin, this spirited young woman rises to the challenge. Soon faced with the worst tragedy imaginable, she makes a decision that changes her life forever.Praise for Beneath the Shadow of Crows:
“Madelon Phillips’ Beneath the Shadow of Crows is an astounding feat of storytelling. Just as Gone With the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn are not only gripping stories, but emblematic of their times, so it is with Beneath the Shadow of Crows. It is the story of Mattie Collins, who comes of age in the fifties, a woman of her time and place, brought up by her father to think of herself as, well, worthless. She marries to escape the war zone of her parents’ home. It is a story of a woman’s struggle to find her self-worth and freedom from the mental prison built brick by brick first by her father and then completed by her husband. It’s a heartwarming story of personal triumph in an age when for women the barriers were a mile high and the cultural landscape littered with land mines. Beneath the Shadow of Crows is one you won’t soon forget.” ----James N. Frey
“Sit down, open up Beneath the Shadow of the Crows and call in food so you can keep reading Madelon Phillips’ debut novel until the very last page. That’s what I did, and I’ll never forget Mattie Collins, her wit and her spirit. Mattie is snappy, intelligent, full of heart and her perspective on life kept a big smile on my face. In Beneath the Shadow of the Crows Madelon Phillips deftly creates the story of Mattie’s life and peoples it with characters that breathe.” ----Tina Welling, Cowboys Never Cry
This was a really depressing kind of book but also one that probably told the truth about what happens to girls who are raised to think that they are not worth much and have both parents as alcoholics or at least one who demeans her every chance that they get, so it's no wonder she tried to fill that void by marrying men to escape. On her third marriage is when she thought she would finally find happiness.
And she did for awhile until tragedy strikes and that is when the real Mattie takes over and decides enough is enough and works out a plan to gain her life back. You will want to celebrate her finally getting a clue and doing something for herself and herself only. Too bad it took a tragedy to make her see that, but unfortunately, that is how it works more times than not.
Very powerful book that will leave you pondering your life and if need be, making some positive changes in your own life. It's definitely a must read for women who need the motivation to get up and dust themselves off like Mattie and the author of this book did. This is actually based somewhat on the what the author went through. You really need to read her bio in the About the Author below to help you decide if you would like to read this book.
About the Author:
Madelon Phillips is an 82-year-old author of Beneath the Shadow of Crows (2014) and The Pearls of Snake Hollow (2014).
BENEATH THE SHADOW OF CROWS is fiction, but Madelon Phillips based the story on her own experiences. The story begins when she married her third husband at age eighteen.
Her father was an embittered, disabled WWI veteran who often said to she and her sisters, "Jesus, I wish to hell you kids were all grown and married." Marriage was the only option for many girls in the post WWII, pre-women's liberation era, when most working class husbands considered working wives a threat to their manhood. When her mother wanted to take up nurses' training during the war, he said, "No sonofabitichin wife of mine is going to work." That was the mentality of the times.
Besides being poor, she and her sisters felt stupid and unwelcome at home by a father who constantly belittled his wife and kids. He often beat them with his razor strop while repeating the words, "I have to break her spirit."
She completed the eighth grade, then after a couple of months in the ninth, both of her unmarried, teenage sisters became pregnant. Her sisters had escaped home by becoming pregnant and marrying, so Madelon and her twenty-three year old boyfriend concocted a lie. She told her mother she was pregnant. She married at sixteen, then again at seventeen, and again at eighteen. With three marriages under her belt, and no pregnancies, she worried that she would never have children. A year after her third marriage, she and her husband adopted a two-week-old baby. Three years later, after two miscarriages, she gave birth to a daughter. When that daughter was four, a third child was born, a daughter. She, like her protagonist in the novel, was devastated when that two-year-old baby drowned.
She kept her sanity by plunging headfirst into learning about a world beyond the small town and narrow minds where her life had begun. With a fractured self-image, she enrolled in junior college and earned an Associate Arts degree. Later she received a BA degree with a creative writing emphasis from San Francisco State University followed by a lifetime, secondary teaching credential from the University of California, Berkeley, and a teaching minor in math and taught junior high math for many years.
Madelon also studied method acting with Jean Shelton in her San Francisco Studio for two years where she discovered that her past experiences had given her the ability to feel, and express the emotions of characters, which is a necessary ingredient in method acting. She turned that ability to writing and has never looked back. She has finally found her passion.
THE PEARLS OF SNAKE HOLLOW was pure imagination. Madelon Phillips wrote the first two pages, liked them, and created a story.