LaVyrle Spencer






Jove, March 1990

Reviewer Sissy Jacobson



August 1941



Healthy man of any age willing

    to work a spread and share the

place. See E. Dinsmore, top of

Rock Creek Road.”



The news that America was beginning to climb out of The Great Depression was slow in getting to Whitney, a wide place in the road somewhere in the pine forests of northwest Georgia. Will Parker, fresh out of Huntsville State Penitentiary in Texas, has just been run off his job after three and a half days work at the sawmill in Whitney. As he walks into town, he escapes in his mind to a place with a white picket fence, enough food to eat everyday, and love…lots of love. No one has ever wanted Will Parker, but that doesn’t stop him from craving love and acceptance, and he doesn’t mind working hard for it if someone will just give him a chance.


Crazy Elly Dinsmore is what they call her in town. She was raised by her grandparents, two religious fanatics who called her the Devil’s Spawn. She and her mother Chloe were prisoners in the house with the green shades drawn and no visitors allowed. When she was seven-years old, the sheriff came knocking at the door, warning her grandparents that Elly had to go to school. Again she was closed up in a room until the day she skipped school and wandered into the woods. This was her first taste of freedom and the beginning of a lifelong love of birds and animals of the forest and sunshine on her face. Here in the forest she met Glendon Dinsmore who became her friend. Years later, after her grandparents and her mother died, Eleanor See and Glendon Dinsmore married. They had two children and another on the way, when Glendon, a dreamer more than a doer, was killed when he fell out of a tree. Eleanor, who has isolated herself and the children out at their place, needs help. Thus the ad in the paper.


MORNING GLORY is a wonderful story about two outcasts from society, both of whom have never known real love. Elly gives her love freely and joyfully to her children and has enough left over for a mate; Will is so hungry for love, he soaks up Elly’s attention like a sponge. He watches Elly and learns to show his love for her and her children, baby Thomas and four-year old Donald Wade, who becomes Will’s side-kick. It is a story of hard work, joy, thankfulness, and great courage on the part of two people who have come together under unusual circumstances. It is the story of second chances and hope.


LaVyrle Spencer gives us a realistic picture of a country coming out of a deep Depression and entering World War ll.  When Will is drafted and sent overseas, we worry with Elly and Miss Beasley, the town librarian who, through the efforts of Will, becomes a surrogate grandmother to the family. Will knows Elly will need friends while he is away.


This book is by no means maudlin. LaVyrle Spencer is a master at descriptive narration, painting pictures with words. I reread MORNING GLORY at least once a year. It is one of my favorite comfort books. I know these people and hear their voices. I know what the town is like, and can see the countryside. Some of you have never heard of the Depression, nor World War ll. I’m old enough to remember December 7, 1941, and can attest to the realism of the times Ms. Spencer writes about. I remember the clothes, the make-up, the rationing of all necessities, the movies, the music, and the fears so accurately portrayed by Ms. Spencer.


Ms. Spencer has retired from writing but her work is frequently re-released, and can still be found in bookstores or wherever books are sold.


February 2005


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