When an outsider moves to a new place, everyday details of life the natives take for granted can be worth noting.
A new book from the University of South Carolina press, An Antebellum Plantation Household, takes advantage of an outsider's perspective to document life in South Carolina's Low Country before the Civil War.
The book uses as its guide the letters of Emily Sinkler, a Philadelphia woman who moved to the Low Country after marriage. Mrs. Sinkler often wrote home to her family in Philadelphia, describing the details of her new life.
Anne Sinkler Whaley LeClercq, a descendant of Emily Sinkler, has collected those letters and used them to put together a portrait of a place and time. She completes the portrait with Mrs. Sinkler's book of recipes and remedies.
Ms. LeClercq goes through Mrs. Sinkler's observations subject by subject, distilling comments from years worth of letters on issues such as life at the plantation, motherhood, slavery, the boredom of country life and visits to Charleston. The quotes from the letters are usually brief.
The book is more of interest for its historical value than its narrative. Mrs. Sinkler comes across as an observant, intelligent figure, and the book would a good resource for someone wanting to research that time.
The biggest disappointment has to be that the correspondence, which began in 1842, all but ceased from 1856 until Mrs. Sinkler's death in 1875, thus robbing readers of any of her perspective on the Civil War.
The book is 181 pages and costs $16.95
The 22nd annual Sandhills Writers' Conference has been set for May 8-10 at Augusta State University.
The conference gives aspiring writers a chance to have their manuscripts evaluated by professional authors. Panelists this year include Gloria Naylor, author of Women of Brewster Place; William F. Nolan, author of Logan's Run, Jane Dystel, a New York literary agent and Xuefei Ha Jin, a creative writing teacher at Emory University.
Writers who plan to submit manuscripts for evaluation have until March 28 to register. The cost is $156, or $76 for students.
For information, call 737-8888.