Characters: Daniel Dobbs, the Harvard graduate from rural Alabama, whose ambition is to enter Alabama politics on the coat tails of George Wallace’s opponent
Caroline Elmore, a Harvard student from Mountain Brook, his fiance’
Aaron Osgood, a democratic challenger to George Wallace in the 1982 governor’s primary
Bobby and Shaye Dobbs, Daniel’s long-suffering parents
Daniel Dobbs has just received a new (used) car as a present from his parents for his graduation from Harvard. The choice had been between a Honda and a Chevette, and while Daniel had made it clear that he highly favored the Honda, his parents, ever aware of the financial strains of their ambitious lives, opted for the less expensive model. He arrived at his fiance’s house in Mountain Brook in a Chevette, probably the least expensive car in the whole neighborhood; even the help had better wheels. But Daniel is filled with the fire of youth and has other things to think about. He believes as only the young can in a Democratic challenger, Aaron Osgood, to George Wallace’s hold on his home state. Daniel has taken a summer job with the campaign and hopes to play a leading role which will launch his own political career with gusto.
This novel creates a contrast of worlds, that of the elite Mountain Brook neighborhood where Catherine grew up and that of Daniel’s parents, and everyone else. While Daniel’s parents struggled to get off the farm and into the middle class, Catherine’s father is hauling in manure by the bag full for his roses. Daniel is getting no support in his venture from his folks, or from anyone else except Caroline, who is dutifully encouraging but not a true believer. Oddly enough, although the two are both from the same state, they could never have met there. It took both getting away to Harvard for their paths to cross. There simply isn’t a social mechanism for them to get to know each other back home in Alabama, those from Mountain Brook don’t mix with other classes. Daniel’s choice of careers puts a strain on the relationship and old love affairs resurface to challenge these young lovers. The politics is dirty as usual, and there’s a lot of sex in the novel, but not inappropriate for the age of the main characters.
The second novel about Mountain Brook by Katherine Clark, following The Headmaster’s Darlings.