The Last Resort by Norma Watkins
Taking the Mississippi Cure (Willie Morris Books in Memoir and Biography)

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Raised under the racial segregation that kept her family's southern country hotel afloat, Norma Watkins grows up listening at doors, trying to penetrate the secrets and silences of the black help and of her parents' marriage. Groomed to be an ornament to white patriarchy, she sees herself failing at the ideal of becoming a southern lady.

The Last Resort, her compelling memoir, begins in childhood at Allison's Wells, a popular Mississippi spa for proper white people, run by her aunt. Life at the rambling hotel seems like paradise. Yet young Norma wonders at a caste system that has colored people cooking every meal while forbidding their sitting with whites to eat.

Once integration is court-mandated, her beloved father becomes a stalwart captain in defense of Jim Crow as a counselor to fiery, segregationist Governor Ross Barnett. His daughter flounders, looking for escape. A fine house, wonderful children, and a successful husband do not compensate for the shock of Mississippi's brutal response to change, daily made manifest by the men in her home. A sexually bleak marriage only emphasizes a growing emotional emptiness. When a civil rights lawyer offers love and escape, does a good southern lady dare leave her home state and closed society behind? With humor and heartbreak, The Last Resort conveys at once the idyllic charm and the impossible compromises of a lost way of life.


About Norma Watkins

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Norma Watkins is professor emerita at Miami Dade College, where she taught, directed the Environmental Ethics Institute, and held an endowed chair. She teaches creative writing at the College of the Redwoods and is an essayist for the St. Petersburg Times, Photograph by Les Cizek
Published May 9, 2011 by University Press of Mississippi. 309 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Last Resort

Tampa Bay Times

At the country resort run by her aunt, "the summer I turned twelve, Parthenia, Ellis, and Ora Dee (some of the black servants who staffed the resort) started calling me Miss Norma.

Aug 20 2011 | Read Full Review of The Last Resort: Taking the M...

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