Pretty Much: a Memoir by Betty Bell Brown
"Betty Brown has written my favorite kind of book: an utterly gripping memoir about family. It's the story of ordinary people finding themselves in extraordinary, psychologically challenging situations. This is truly a memorable book."
—Judy Goldman, author of Together: A Memoir of A Marriage and A Medical Mishap
"Pretty Much is a palimpsest of author Betty Brown’s mother’s diary, Brown’s own recollections and research, and her original art work mixed with family photographs. The result is a richly textured portrait of a South Carolina family over the twentieth century with an unforgettable matriarch at the center. Brown’s voice is at once familiar and fresh; she is a detached observer whose vaguely ironic tone permeates the memoir’s title and the many narrative strands that verge on tragedy. Her love for her family seeps into even her relatives’ least lovable moments. The reader is simply swept along."
—Cynthia Lewis, Charles A. Dana Professor of English, Davidson College
"Betty Brown is an esteemed painter who, with an artist’s eye for detail and truth-telling, has written a memoir, Pretty Much, about her prototypically Southern family. It is an astonishing book. She has skillfully interwoven excerpts of her mother’s diary (whose “voice” melds uncannily well with the author’s own), as well as exquisite old photos that lend an almost mythological resonance to a story with more than its share of tragedy. Against all odds, with courage and compassion, Betty Brown has gathered all of these pieces, and much more, in one pitch-perfect, heart-rending book to savor."
—Michael White, poet, professor of creative writing UNC-Wilmington
Pretty Much: A Memoir is the story of a girl named Clara, born when little girls wore white ruffled dresses, though she preferred handmade brown jodhpurs she stitched in pink. Clara, of necessity, grew into a woman who made her own way in the world. No obstacle she encountered deterred her from having her own way, "pretty much." Her daughter, Betty, grew up in Clara's shadow and then had to find her way out from under it to realize her own dreams.
Betty Bell Brown is a widely published writer, award-winning artist, and teacher based in Wilmington. Pretty Much: A Memoir is her first full length book.