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Talented Swift (Splendors, Principia Martindale) unfurls a quirky, bittersweet, mystical tale, drawing deeper into the ""Big Thicket"" of East Texas. Isaac and Bessie Overstreet are the best-loved people in a rickety, turn-of-the-century river settlement, Camp Ruby. Tall, mysterious Bessie knew that tall, quiet Isaac was the man she'd been waiting for from the moment his little fishing boat drifted into view. For Isaac, Bessie's appearance on the river bank was the fulfillment of a prophecy made by an Indian wise women--whom he so trusted that he'd just the day before finished a house for the two of them to live in. From the beginning, however, everybody in Camp Ruby senses that Bessie isn't quite like everybody else. Quietly deciding that Isaac's precarious little house is a place filled with promise, Bessie breeds day lilies on the riverbank until the first special event--the birth of twin girls so much alike everyone whispers, ""They share the same mind."" These ""Ruby Jewels"" grow up bright and free. spirited; they also drive everyone in town crazy, most of all the school mistress, Lottie Faircloth, and her frail son Peter (that is, until Peter lies dying and the twins revive him through their friendship and the river's soothing waters). Sometime after the Ruby Jewels set up house with Peter (and before they're all washed into the river in a storm), another special daughter, Zeda Earl, is born. This time it's nasty Doc Broome, who took advantage of Bessie while she was in a faint, who is the father. It takes angry, restless Zeda half a lifetime to learn what the village idiot/savant Billy Wiggins sensed and kind Bessie always knew--it's not who you're born, it's who you become. A sweet-spirited East Texas Zen tale, rich with humor and frontier wisdom.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Doubleday