The Resource The mere wife, Maria Dahvana Headley

The mere wife, Maria Dahvana Headley

Label
The mere wife
Title
The mere wife
Statement of responsibility
Maria Dahvana Headley
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
From the perspective of those who live in Herot Hall, the suburb is a paradise. Picket fences divide buildings--high and gabled--and the community is entirely self-sustaining. Each house has its own fireplace, each fireplace is fitted with a container of lighter fluid, and outside--in lawns and on playgrounds--wildflowers seed themselves in neat rows. But for those who live surreptitiously along Herot Hall's periphery, the subdivision is a fortress guarded by an intense network of gates, surveillance cameras, and motion-activated lights. For Willa, the wife of Roger Herot (heir of Herot Hall), life moves at a charmingly slow pace. She flits between mommy groups, playdates, cocktail hour, and dinner parties, always with her son, Dylan, in tow. Meanwhile, in a cave in the mountains just beyond the limits of Herot Hall lives Gren, short for Grendel, as well as his mother, Dana, a former soldier who gave birth as if by chance. Dana didn't want Gren, didn't plan Gren, and doesn't know how she got Gren, but when she returned from war, there he was. When Gren, unaware of the borders erected to keep him at bay, ventures into Herot Hall and runs off with Dylan, Dana's and Willa's worlds collide
Member of
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Character
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ Headley’s (Aerie, 2016) fourth novel is a stunner: a darkly electric reinterpretation of Beowulf that upends its Old English framework to comment on the nature of heroes and how we “other” those different from ourselves. It deftly interweaves a host of contemporary themes, from racial tensions to veterans’ reintegration, political corruption, and female power. In modern suburbia, a well-regulated gated community is juxtaposed against the frightening, untamed wildness outside. Following her traumatic captivity while fighting for America overseas, Dana Mills found herself pregnant and is unsure how it happened. Bearing several battle scars, she and her son, Gren, now live in an abandoned railway station inside a mountain. In the nearby valley, Willa Herot, a discontented housewife, resides at Herot Hall with her son, Dylan, and husband, Roger; the trio appears to be the perfect family. When music from Dylan’s piano drifts upward, attracting Gren’s curiosity, the boys become secret friends, sparking a chain of often-surprising events (the story creatively deviates from the original). Besides Dana, other first-person narrators include a chorus of suburban matriarchs, police hounds on the scent, and the observant mountain itself. A strange tale told with sharp poetic imagery and mythic fervor, Headley’s novel prompts examination of how people create or become monsters. -- Johnson, Sarah (Reviewed 6/1/2018) (Booklist, vol 114, number 19, p34)
  • “Everyone might be a monster underneath their skin,” thinks Dana Mills, a character in this clever reimagining of Beowulf as a mordant glimpse of the mores of contemporary suburbia. Dana is a maimed ex-soldier who lives in an abandoned railroad tunnel above her hometown, Herot Hall, with Gren, her son, through whom the author, by being intentionally vague about his appearance, emphasizes the idea that monstrousness is in the eye of the beholder. When Gren befriends Dylan “Dil” Herot (Gren and Dil’s names combine to sound much like Grendel, one of the antagonists in Beowulf), the young son of descendants of the town’s founder with whom he shares a close bond, the stage is set for a dramatic face-off between Dana and local cop Ben Woolf. When Ben is called to investigate Dana and Dil’s unintended disruption of a Christmas party at the Herots’, he interprets it as a home invasion that must be avenged. Headley (Magonia) applies the broad contours of the Beowulf story to her tale but skillfully seeds her novel with reflections on anxieties and neuroses that speak to the concerns of modern parenting. Her narrative leaps between grisly incidents of violence and touching moments of motherly love that turn her tale’s source material inside out and situate it in a recognizable modern landscape where, as Ben accepts, “the world isn’t large enough for monsters and heroes at once.” (July) --Staff (Reviewed 05/14/2018) (Publishers Weekly, vol 265, issue 20, p)
  • This lyrical novel uses the Old English epic Beowulf as its template, but in this rendering, female and matriarchal power move to the fore. Grendel's mom has a name here: Dana Mills, an Iraq war veteran who has survived an attempted beheading and been impregnated by an unknown wartime father. She and her monster of a son live in an abandoned railroad station under a mountain mere, or inland sea, near an Aspen-like community called Herot Hall. Its elite citizens parallel the poem's Danes. There's a chorus of formidable mothers and mothers-in-law, but the tale centers on one powerful woman, Willa Herot, whose son befriends Grendel, drawing him and Dana toward civilization and danger. Dana slays Willa's husband, Roger, and Willa subsequently marries the sexy police chief, Ben Woolf. Those familiar with the long poem can see where this is going. VERDICT As with any mythically or allegorically driven novel, the plot becomes fantastical when grafted onto modern tropes. Nevertheless, Headley's heroic prose and vivid imagery offers thought-provoking correlations between ancient themes and recent historical events. Its emphasis on feminist power gives an old tale renewed significance. [See Prepub Alert, 11/12/17.] --Reba Leiding (Reviewed 06/15/2018) (Library Journal, vol 143, issue 11, p66)
  • /* Starred Review */ Headley, a writer of juvenile fiction (Aerie, 2016, etc.) and fantasy, steps into the adult world with this spot-on reimagining of a classic of Old English literature. Think "mere" as sea, as in the Old English, and not just as some dismissive term. Think of the world as the author of Beowulf did, where sea caves shelter monsters and great mead halls harbor mighty warriors who melt away when the monsters make their way inland. Headley recasts the geography of a place that's most contemporary, a suburb of cul-de-sacs and playgrounds, meant to be a community but full of people who live their own isolated lives, while up on the bordering mountain of which the brochures boast, strange things are afoot. Willa has her doubts about the planned community of Herot Hall —"I always thought it might be a mistake to leave the back of the houses unfenced," she frets—and for good reason, for within a cave on the mountain live Dana, a PTSD-scarred returned soldier, and her son, Gren, who are definitive outsiders. Unsocialized, wild, brown-skinned Gren has learned from Dana that Herot Hall is a place of monsters that "tear people from limb to limb," but Gren is infatuated with Willa's son, Dylan, who dares play outside and shows no fear. The fraught friendship of the two throws the carefully constructed worlds of Willa, who keeps weekly menus taped to her refrigerator, and Dana, who is never far away from military-grade weapons, into a spin; Herot Hall may be a "toddler empire," but it is now a place of amber alerts and armed patrols, all courtesy of a combat-ready cop named Ben Woolf. Things do not end well in Herot Hall or on the mountain either: "There are sirens," writes Headley with lyrical assuredness, "and then more sirens, like God has come down from heaven and called out for every church to lay tribute." There's not a false note in this retelling, which does the Beowulf poet and his spear-Danes proud. (Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2018)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10677153
Cataloging source
DLC
http://bibfra.me/vocab/lite/collectionName
Beowulf
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1977-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Headley, Maria Dahvana
Dewey number
813/.6
Index
no index present
Literary form
novels
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Housewives
  • Veterans
  • Mothers and sons
  • Planned communities
  • Suburbs
  • Caves
  • Mothers and sons
Label
The mere wife, Maria Dahvana Headley
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
on1019836460
Dimensions
22 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
308 pages
Isbn
9780374208431
Lccn
2017058628
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)1019836460
Label
The mere wife, Maria Dahvana Headley
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
on1019836460
Dimensions
22 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
308 pages
Isbn
9780374208431
Lccn
2017058628
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)1019836460

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