Peachtree Road

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

It is appropriate that PEACHTREE ROAD begins with the funeral of Lucy Bondurant, which marks the end of the bond between her and her cousin Sheppard Bondurant III. The novel is their story. From the moment that he first sees her, lonely, seven-year-old Shep is captivated by his five-year-old cousin, who, along with her mother and two other children, has come to live with Shep’s wealthy father in a big house on Peachtree Road in Atlanta.

Unfortunately, the sanctuary comes too late for Lucy, who is already traumatized by her father’s brutality to her and by his subsequent desertion of his family. Beginning with Shep, Lucy desperately sets about enlisting every male she can find to fill her father’s place. Lucy is beautiful, charming, imaginative, and strong-willed enough to enforce her demands. Shep, the narrator of PEACHTREE ROAD, cannot imagine life without her. As Anne Rivers Siddons follows Lucy and Shep through four decades, however, it becomes tragically clear that Lucy is doomed, and that everyone who falls under her influence will eventually share her unhappy destiny. Finally, it is Shep who must deny Lucy in order to give Lucy’s daughter a life of her own. Providentially, the choice he makes opens his way to the other woman whom he has loved since boyhood.

Like Anne Rivers Siddons’ other novels, PEACHTREE ROAD is also the story of Atlanta, the city which she knows so well. As the epigraph by James Dickey suggests, this book tells of a golden era, when the wealthy, secure Buckhead boys and girls, men and women, held one of the most energetic cities of the South as their private property. In her descriptions, Siddons emphasizes the beauty of her city, now lost; in her characterizations, she stresses the complexity of human motivations; and in her final pages, she reiterates her faith in the redeeming power of love.