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Sacred to the Memory of Elvis,” proclaims the hand-lettered sign on Joyce Jackson’s front porch. Posters, portraits, flags, gladiolas, black satin streamers and twinkling Christmas lights complete Joyce’s homemade shrine to the King in a tumbledown section of St. Elmo, California.
Emily Shaw, a wealthy girl, fresh out of college in 1982, and a newly hired social worker, is about to make her first home visit to Mrs Joyce Jackson and her two daughters, Priscilla and Lisa Marie. Emily asks the standard questions from the Family Questionnaire regarding the family’s needs and aspirations.
Joyce says: “I’d like to carry on Elvis’s work.”
“You want to be a rock and roll star?”
“That wasn’t his work. That was his job.”
Emily Shaw has never met anyone like Joyce Jackson. Joyce teaches Emily undaunted love, faith and the power of music, memory and the imagination. Joyce’s benevolence is inspired by the King, but her vision is entirely her own. The qualities Joyce honors in Elvis, she practices in St. Elmo.
However, Joyce’s generosity, her independence and her uncanny skills of management are a source of deep irritation to Marge Mason, Emily’s boss at the Department of Social Welfare, and Joyce’s sworn enemy. Marge believes that Joyce is a welfare cheat with bad taste men and music and too much spunk for a manless woman on public assistance.
All her life people have been trying to break Joyce, to make her cower and weep, from her fiercely fundamentalist father to her errant husband, Jack. A woman of spiritual largesse, and sexual energy, she draws strength from Elvis, and radiates her own indomitable passion and kindness among a huge cast of memorable characters, holy rollers and rock and rollers, cops and robbers, welfare workers and refugees.
Graced Land marries the pain and humiliation of loss with the rhythm and soul of rock and roll. Sparked with humor, alight with music, this is the novel that will make you shout.