I don't know anything about Eudora Welty, other than that my dear friend, Mary Hughes, would probably like her since they hail from the same city (Jackson, MS). I've never read of any of her other novels—indeed, I've never even heard of any of her other novels—and, to be honest, before reading the "About the Author" section in this book, I had never even heard of her!
However, when I finished The Fixer and saw this one in my stack of Pulitzer novels, in the corner of my room, my curiosity was piqued. My edition of the book (which you can view on my Shelfari virtual bookshelf) is only 180 or so pages long and, based one what I've read so far, reads very quickly and smoothly. I imagine I'll probably finish it by tomorrow night (if not by the time I fall asleep tonight).
Here's a quick description of the book:
The Optimist's Daughter is the story of Laurel McKelva Hand, a young woman who has left the South and returns, years later, to New Orleans, where her father is dying. After his death, she and her silly young stepmother go back still farther, to the small Mississippi town where she grew up. Alone in the old house, Laurel finally comes to an understanding of the past, herself, and her parents.Ahh. The story of a young woman's self-discovery. Remind me not to read The Hours after this.