Anne Rivers Siddons' consistently best-selling novels were typically set in Georgia, or at the least they centered upon Southerners who had moved away yet taken the South with them in character and memory.
Best known for her books set in Atlanta and its environs, Siddons' popularity transcended place. Her total hardcover and paperback sales range in the millions, attesting to the skill with which she created engaging Southern characters whose identities shaped their universal human struggles.
Two distinctive Siddons novels, Homeplace (1987) and Nora, Nora (2000), take place in a fictionalized version of her hometown of Fairburn, a Fulton County town southwest of Atlanta. Her novel Downtown (1994) was a fictional retelling of Siddons' own early career as a writer and editor for Atlanta magazine.
Peachtree Road (1989), Siddons' most successful novel, the author displayed her razor-sharp narrative talent, eviscerating the hypocrisies of Atlanta's socially pretentious white elite on the eve of the civil rights era, Siddons' one foray into horror writing was also set in Atlanta, The House Next Door (1978), a story that the master horror novelist Stephen King praised as a contemporary horror classic. In Fox's Earth (1981), a Georgia textile-mill maid fury wreaks her own titanic havoc on a Sparta, Georgia, "first-family" in what Kirkus Reviews called a "Southern-belle-villainy festival."
Siddons' roots in magazine journalism also led her to write two nonfiction books, Go Straight on Peachtree (1978), a guidebook to Atlanta, and John Chancellor Makes Me Cry (1975), a series of essays patterned around the changing seasons in Atlanta.
In King's Oak (1991) Siddons moved beyond Atlanta, taking characters out of the city to a fictional little town in a fictional recreation of the piedmont area along the Savannah River basin. In Outer Banks (1991), Colony (1992), Hill Towns (1993), Fault Lines (1995), Up Island (1997), Low Country (1998), and Off Season (2008), Siddons' Southerners spread out further, leaving the region they were born in for lives in the Middle Atlantic and New England states.
In both Nora, Nora (2000) and Burnt Mountain (2011), Siddons' heroines return to Atlanta to wend their various ways through life in fictionalized suburbs of the city. Not far away, in Islands (2004) and Sweetwater Creek (2005) Siddons' characters negotiate the overlapping minefields of love's memory and life's uncertain future in yet another familiar landscape for the author, the coastal lowcountry and the barrier islands of South Carolina -- the setting, as it turned out, for Siddons' final novel, The Girls of August (2014).
Though many reviewers have compared Siddons's writing and subject matter to those of Margaret Mitchell, Siddons disagreed, and she saw her own Southern storytelling as less romantic, more realistic than Mitchell's blockbuster Gone with the Wind. "It's like an old marriage or a long marriage," she once said about her own fictional South, as it is portrayed by her novels. "The commitment is absolute, but the romance has long since worn off.... I want to write about it as it really is."
The author of nineteen novels, Siddons died of lung cancer at her Charleston, SC, home at the age of 83.
The following titles may be found in the Hall of Fame Library:
Burnt Mountain. New York: Grand Central, 2011.
Colony. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1992.
Downtown. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1994.
Faultlines. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995.
La Fissures. Paris: France Loisirs, 1997. Translator Francine Siety.
Fox's Earth. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981.
Fox's Earth. London: Fontana , 1982.
La Georgienne. Paris: France Loisirs, 1989. Translator Jaques Martinache.
The Girls of August. New York: Grand Central, 2014.
Heartbreak Hotel. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1976.
Hill Towns. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1993.
Homeplace. New York: Harper and Row, 1987.
The House Next Door. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978.
Islands. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2004.
John Chancellor Makes Me Cry. New York: Harper Perennial, 1993.
John Chancellor Makes Me Cry. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1992.
Kings Oak. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1990.
Kings Oak. New York: Harper Paperbacks, 1991.
Kings Oak. London: Fontana , 1992.
Low Country. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1993.
Nora, Nora. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2000.
Off Season. New York: Grand Central, 2008.
Outerbanks. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1991.
Outerbanks. New York: Harper Collins Paperbacks, 1992.
Peachtree Road. New York: Harper and Row, 1988.
Peachtree Road. Atlanta: Old New York Book Shop and Press, 1988.
Peachtree Road. London: MacMillan London , 1989.
Peachtree Road. New York: Ballentine Books, 1989.
Peachtree Road. London: Pan Books, 1990.
Reencuentro. Buenos Aires: Emece, 1993. Translator: Constanza Fantin de Bellocq.
Strasse der Pfirsichbluten. Munich: Goldmann Verlag, 1993. Translator: Gabriele Dick.
Sweetwater Creek. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2005.
Tausend Sommer. Munich: Goldmann Verlag, 1994.
Up Island. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1997.
Veranos Apacibles. Barcelona: Emece, 1997. Translator: Constanza Fantin de Ballocq
The Special Collections department of Auburn University Libraries holds Anne Rivers Siddons' papers.