Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Book Review #9: Plantation Parade

This 1945 volume by Harnett T. Kane (1911-1984) is a fascinating look at the early plantation homes built in Louisiana by the early French settlers and later by the Americans. He describes the building and furnishing of these grand houses, the life that flowed in, through, and around them, and sometimes their tragic fate. The men who built them were larger than life, and the women who were often left to keep them going after their husbands' deaths, were valiant examples of the not-so-fragile "southern belles".  The families that inhabited them were often large in number as well as vision.Their fortunes rose and fell with sugar and cotton, as well as with nature's fury.

An insert of photographs taken of many of the houses, presumably around the time the author wrote about them, will spark the imagination of any writer. From gardens to ballrooms to the "flirtation" room, and elaborate tombs, imported marble mantles, Greek columns, and ornate ironwork, these houses with names like Oak Alley, Magnolia Mound, Columb House, Bocage, Parlange, White Hall, D'Estreban, Ormond, Chritien Point, Uncle Sam, Houmas, Ashland, St. Louis, Live Oaks, Shadows, Madewood, Woodlawn, Belle Grove, Nottoway, Rosedown, Melrose, and Oakley sprang up along the bayous of Louisiana.

The descriptions boggle the mind--and so do the stories of the men who built them. Many have been restored; many no longer exist after years of decay and neglect. But they are preserved here in this book (younger than I am!) for future generations of historians, architects, and most of all, writers.

Plantation Parade is indeed a procession worth watching!

Here is a link to the author's obituary in the New York Times which mentions many of his other works about the South.


K9friend said...

I'm imaging lots of images of beautiful old homes. How cool!

Mary Ricksen said...

I love imagery!!!!