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Being Mrs. Alcott    by Nancy Geary order for
Being Mrs. Alcott
by Nancy Geary
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

Nancy Geary weaves an engrossing tale of an American upper class woman, as she struggles to find herself after thirty-five years of marriage. Being Mrs. Alcott is about Grace's life as the mother of two and the wife of Bainbridge 'Bain' Alcott.

Grace has led a privileged life where she has played the role of wife and homemaker, while deferring her own opinions and relying on Bain to make the family's decisions. Grace and Bain spend the majority of their marriage residing in a beautiful home on the beaches of Cape Cod (with Bain mainly at work and Grace at home). Grace befriends a feisty and mysterious female clammer and the two strike up a unique friendship over the years (which adds an interesting wrinkle to Grace's life). Having the responsibility of raising two sons and serving as the perfect Mrs. Alcott, Grace has always attempted to be a good wife and mother.

Grace's quiet, yet comfortable upper class lifestyle slowly but surely changes when Bain retires prematurely, leaving the couple in a precarious financial position. Bain's pride drives him to 'keep up appearances' so that their Cape Cod neighbors believe the Alcotts are getting on just fine but Grace and Bain know that their family fortune is dwindling rapidly. When Bain decides that they finally must sell the Cape Cod house to find a cheaper living arrangement, Grace's life begins to unravel, though she understands his motivation and knows that Bain would not sell if there were another way out of their precarious financial position.

However, Grace still suffers the effects of the pending sale and faces intimidating challenges from her self-centered children, forging a courageous front against curious neighbors, and dealing with a grating realtor. All the changes surrounding the sale of the home require courage on Grace's part and she begins to reflect back on her life. She comes to terms with choices that she has made and the life that she has lived. Not everything has turned out the way Grace pictured it would but the sale of the family home helps her rediscover who Mrs. Alcott really is, and gets her thinking about what she really wants.

Being Mrs. Alcott is an engrossing read - thoughtful and interesting, and without the sappiness that unfortunately is present in many novels of this ilk of a woman finding herself. While Grace has led a quiet life, there are interesting developments in this novel, which I recommend to fans of women's fiction.

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