Comfort and Mirth offers a rare glimpse into the capital city of Texas during the early decades of the twentieth century and brings into play the formation of the Texas suffrage movement, Prohibition, the treatment of the mentally ill, and the first round of controversies over the Jim Crow laws.
This novel traces a young woman’s journey of self-discovery and the struggle for empowerment. Camille Abernathy leaves her home in Seattle to move to Austin with her worldly new husband who has accepted a position as professor of philosophy at the University of Texas. As she devotes herself to the tasks required to create a home of ease and elegance for her husband and her children, she is drawn into a whirling social circle of professors’ wives and introduced to the world of urban opulence and hypocrisy. Through the letters she writes to her mother, Camille unravels the complexities of her new life by trusting in her natural instincts and relying on her greatest innate strengths—depth of philosophical and spiritual wisdom.
Camille’s story is told against the background of the growth of Austin from a frontier town to a cosmopolitan southwestern city including such events as the arrival of the first motorcars to the dusty streets, Congress Avenue, the opening of the Hancock Opera House, the formation of Elisabet Ney’s sculpture museum in Hyde Park, and the construction, flooding, and reconstruction of the great dam to form the Texas Hill Country lake system.
Lori Joan Swick was born and raised in Austin where she teaches religion, mythology, and moral studies at St. Edward’s University. While she is a published poet, Comfort and Mirth is her first novel. The story was inspired by her research into Central Texas history—especially during the first “wave” of feminism when Texas women fought for the right to vote. It was developed through her love of the traditional women’s arts and her fascination with the natural powers of motherly instincts and womanly wisdom.
What Readers Are Saying:
“Camille watched the oranges and lavenders of the sunset flatten themselves across the western hills and understood how Austin had come to be called the violet crown. Shadows of dusk lengthened over the gold and green grass of her back lawn. Her herb garden was thriving, but another planting season had passed and still there was no trellis and no flower garden. Something almost cool wafted in the evening air after the longest, hottest summer she had ever known. She inhaled all she could of the essence of autumn from the still-humid air as she finished hanging diapers for the last time that day.” --from the book