Cora Fry's Pillow Book Summary
by Rosellen Brown

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Cora Fry’s Pillow Book

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

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In CORA FRY’S PILLOW BOOK, Rosellen Brown successfully mixes a free verse and often avant-garde style with a content rooted deeply in her country life and values. This melange creates a poignantly moving story of life in a small, rural town through the keen eyes of the narrator, Cora Fry. The key player in this story is clearly Cora herself, although readers learn about the life of several others. Her experiences and wisdoms are uniquely a woman’s, and they will prove especially familiar and enlightening for women readers.

This work combines the first set of poems called CORA FRY with the second companion set that continues the story of Cora’s life. Cora watches her children grow up and grow distant with a mother’s helpless sorrow; she talks about the husband who has grown to be such a part of her, yet who she sometimes despises and pities. Cora is also inextricably a part of the small community in which she lives. She and the rest of the community are slowly sinking into financial trouble that is typical of rural communities today.

While dealing with these problems, readers learn intimate details about Cora. While she is a keen observer of other people’s and her own needs, she is very passive. She believes in the individual needs of women, but lets her husband make decisions for her without a fight. In the end, what may be the most important part of her life is taken away when they are forced to move closer to her husband’s new job and away from her beloved town. This town is her identity, her heritage, her life. These values that Cora holds are most likely strange and odd for the common urban reader, but they are not impossible to understand.

Brown presents an entirely different vision of a person living in the modern world in this hauntingly beautiful collection of poems.