Reviewed by Yvonne Lancaster —

“Steel Magnolias,” directed by Herbert Ross, includes the cast of Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, Julia Roberts, Tom Skerritt, Dylan McDermott, Kevin O’Connor and Sam Shepard.

The story centers around six women customers at Truvy’s Beauty Parlor in a small Louisiana town. They share gossip and good natured ribbing as they deal with the joys, sadness and the trials and tribulations of their everyday lives.  Through their strong and lively personalities and their different points of view, each woman has her own unique way of expressing love, loss, pain and the will to find happiness in spite of life’s hardships and broken dreams.

M’Lynn (Sally Field) is an overly protective mother who has a contentious relationship with her diabetic daughter Shelby (Julia Roberts). To M’Lynn’s disappointment, Shelby becomes pregnant soon after her marriage. This proves fatal to Shelby; however, the baby survives.

M’Lynn’s friends from Truvy’s come together to support her in the best way they can.

The heart wrenching scene at the cemetery, delivered by Sally Field, deeply and clearly depicts the power of grief, and the true suffering a parent experiences when a child dies before them.  Some movie critics thought that Ms. Field over-played her role and emotions in this scene, but they were wrong. It was a realistic, moving and sensitive performance.  The scene respectfully and honestly portrays a mother’s anguish and sorrow for the death of her child. She expresses anger at God and questions why she didn’t die before her daughter. She is brought to her knees with grief and loss she must somehow come to bear.

Several years after Shelby’s death, the story illustrates how M’Lynne moves beyond grief and mourning toward peaceful acceptance and joy with her family and loyal, caring friends.

Yvonne Lancaster is an editor and human resources consultant from Leominster, Mass. She lost her son when he was 19 years old. Reach Yvonne at

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Yvonne Lancaster

Born in Worcester, MA, Yvonne is a former newspaper columnist and is the recipient of numerous writing awards from United Press International, Massachusetts Press Association and New England Press Association for her column From the Heart. Currently, she writes short stories, poetry and is a still life painter. She is co-author of Every Step of the Way: How Four Mother’s Coped with Child Loss (2006) and From the Heart, Sketches from Life (1985). She was named Woman of the Year by the Business and Professional Women of America. She is currently working on her first novel. Her website is

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