By Marjorie Rawlings
Completed January 25, 2008
Cross Creek is the memoir of Marjorie Rawlings, Pulitzer-prize winning author of The Yearling, when she lived on her farm in central Florida. Originally published in 1942, Rawlings settled in Florida after she divorced her husband in 1933. Cross Creek documents Rawlings’ joys and challenges of handling the wild Florida nature, weather and citizens. Written in an easy, humorous style, Rawlings transports her readers to the place of hammocks and hurricanes, rattlesnake crossings and mewing cows, and orange blossoms and sand.
Each chapter of her memoir reads like a short story, covering a certain topic. There are chapters devoted to all four seasons. Other individual chapters discuss snakes, bugs, her neighbors and her house. Rawlings is in her element when she writes about nature, and as a fellow Floridian, I can “see’ what Rawlings wrote about in her memoir. Readers of The Yearling would not be a stranger to Rawlings’ natural writing style – and would feel at home reading Cross Creek.
Many readers, however, may be uncomfortable with Rawlings’s depiction of her African-American workers. The writer employed blacks to work in her home and groves, and she often had a difficult time managing her staff. Her opinions of their intellect and abilities are archaic, and in our 21st century wisdom, readers may cringe at her descriptions. With that said, Rawlings is a product of her time. She is not filled with hatred – but rather ignorance – an important fact to remember while reading Cross Creek.
I highly recommend Cross Creek to readers of Marjorie Rawlings’s books, to those who want to learn about Florida history and to readers who enjoy books about nature.
For those of you interested in seeing Marjorie Rawlings’s Florida homestead, I would highly recommend these sites. I hope to visit this place in 2008; it’s only a few hours north of my home, and I have heard that it’s an interesting site to see.
Florida State Parks
Friends of Marjorie Rawlings's Farm
Saturday, January 26, 2008