A memoir full of fondness, deftness and wit, this is a funny, vital eulogy by a wise granddaughter about her wiser grandmother. "'Beauty before comfort,' she wouldsay as she trimmed her brows and cinched her belts corset-tight. My grandmother is so beautiful she has never once been comfortable, a cross she bears with the subtlety of Liberace." So writes Allison Glock at the start of her memoir, the story of her maternal grandmother, Aneita Jean Blair, and the extraordinary life she led growing up in Chester, West Virginia, a sooty factory town wedged between the unforgiving Appalachians and the Ohio River. As a girl, a young woman, and even late in life as a grandmother, Aneita Jean had a magnetism that attracted and enchanted all she came into contact with. Allison Glock takes us through the stages of her life, capturing not only the irrepressible vitality of a woman born ahead of her time, but also the eccentricities of a small-town, working-class West Virginia family, trying to survive the Great Depression and World War II. Aneita, blessed with "the body of Miss America" was determined that she would escape the town that was holding her back.
That she never made it, and the pattern that her life ended up taking, is just another small-town tragedy of the vanished dreams of one extraordinary person. Allison Glock writes with humour and lyricism to create a portrait of a remarkable person in a unique setting.
Allison Glock, a writer-at-large for GQ and mother of two girls, lives in northern New Jersey. This is her first book.