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Whistle Stop

The Veech family are trouble-prone. A large and poverty-striken tribe, they live in a small Michigan town on the outskirts of the city. With six children and three adults crowded into an old and ill-kept house, they bicker and brawl within walls that are, quite literally, sagging. Big, handsome, graceless: a drunkard and a wastrel who has never worked, Kenny Veech nevertheless possesses some kind of arrogant charm that makes him irresistible to women. After fawning on him, yearning for him and paying for his drinks, woman after woman is cast out with a cold brutality. For no woman will ever take the place in his heart occupied by his cool, poised and beautiful sister, Mary. Although living quite openly with a wealthy semi-gangster, who helps support the Veech family, Mary reciprocates Kenny's unnatural affection for her. Their twisted, thwarted love provides titillating morsels of scandal for the neighbourhood through the course of a hot and breathless summer. Things reach a head after Mary and her gangster boyfriend get married and it is made clear that there is not enough room for three people in their relationship . . .

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Maritta Wolff was born in 1918 in Michigan. Whistle Stop, her first novel, won the Avery Hopwood Award in 1940. A runaway bestseller, the book was also printed as a special Armed Forces edition for American troops during World War II. Whistle Stop was made into a feature film in 1946, starring Ava Gardner. In the next two decades, Ms. Wolff authored more than five novels, but she hid her final, unpublished manuscript in her refrigerator until her death in 2002. Rediscovered, that novel, Sudden Rain, is available from Scribner.

More books from this author: Maritta Wolff