The coming of the boll weevil and the sharp decline of cotton prices cause drastic changes in the life of the plantation and in the lives of the family members. Carlin adores her Uncle Will. But like the plantation, Will is doomed and his story is an important part of Carlin’s growing up.
SUNSET AT ROSALIE tells the story of a young girl, Carlin McNair, and her family on a failing cotton plantation in Mississippi during the early 1900s. The coming of the boll weevil and the sharp decline of cotton prices cause drastic changes in the life of the plantation and in the lives of the family members. Carlin adores her Uncle Will. But like the plantation, Will is doomed and his story is an important part of Carlin’s growing up. McLaughlin describes this part of Southern culture in vivid detail, which brings Carlin’s young life close and makes that almost extinct plantation life come alive once again.
Carlin pushed back her brown braids and squinted down the long drive, hoping to see Papa and Uncle Will riding up to Rosalie. The ball of sun had turned the sky yellow-white beyond the pine trees, and she lifted one hand to shade her eyes from its slanting light. They were late. The dark, live oak trees that lined the road made a shadowy tunnel between the plantation’s cotton fields stretching out green and white on either side. But there was no sign of Papa on Graylie, his tall mare, nor of her uncle, whom her father had gone to meet at the train station.
Soon Uncle Will would dismount right there, Carlin thought, and sucked in her breath as she stared at the black hitching post at the end of the red brick walk. He would glance up at the white house for a moment with its columns and wide front gallery, and she would jump up from her seat on the top step and rush down. “Carlie!” he would shout and stoop, opening his arms wide to enfold her.
Of all Uncle Will’s returns, from Paris or from New Orleans, this was the most exciting because next Saturday he and Carlin’s Aunt Emily would be married. Carlin could see the slanting letters on the ivory wedding invitations, with Uncle Will and Aunt Emily’s names at the top, the name of the church, the date, August 28, 1909, and Warrington County, Mississippi, at the bottom. The whole plantation was getting ready.
About the author:
Ann L. McLaughlin is the author of eight highly acclaimed novels including Lightning in July and Amy and George. She teaches at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland and lives in Chevy Chase.