Biographical Fiction: Diary of a Wildflower
by Ruth White
In a time and place where women have few choices in life, Lorelei Starr, a dreamy blue-eyed descendant of the first English and Scotch-Irish settlers in the Virginia hills, looks at the distant horizon from her isolated mountaintop home, and wonders if there is something out there that will fill the hollow place in her chest.
Throughout childhood she wavers between two fantastic realms of imagination. One is a patch of tangled woods where the hopeless Old Thing hides and cries away the years. The other is the enchanted ice palace where the sleeping beauty waits for the kiss of the prince. Lorelei learns about love from her older siblings, who nurture her as their abusive father and distant mother cannot do. Daily she walks down the mountain to the school in the hollow. The rest of her time is filled with “woman’s work”.
Memories of certain incidents come to haunt Lorelei – a sister being whipped by Dad, another being taken away to a sanitorium. Then there’s the smell of strawberries, which are forever associated with a harsh blow from Mommie.
But there are also moments of joy, such as the visit from the traveling peddler who touches her heart by showing her a bit of kindness, and her first visit to town when she rides in an automobile and sees a moving picture show.
When Lorelei is ten, her mother dies needlessly. This death is followed by another one that carves a deeper wound, and she plans her escape from this bitter home.
When the opportunity comes, Lorelei leaves behind everything familiar – family, kin, and the teacher who declares his love for her.
As a teenager in the roaring twenties, Lorelei is swept into the carefree world of flappers, bobbed hair, the Charleston, the IT girl, and the notorious speakeasy. Most important she becomes a bit player in the high society world of old money. Here she meets a different kind of creature – men who are rich and handsome, well-bred and well-educated. One of them steals her heart away, but how can a simple wildflower ever compete with that exotic orchid by his side?
On a trip back to Starr Mountain for yet another funeral, Lorelei comes to the realization that a girl must create her own choices in life, and she finally comes face to face with the promise of happiness.
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