Kirkus Star


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You can go home again, the heroine of Agee's earthy, deeply satisfying latest discovers--you just can't expect home to be easy, or life there particularly simple. Agee (Strange Angels, 1993, etc.) has always demonstrated a distinctive skill for creating complex, tough-minded, open-hearted women. In the past, though, her novels--while zesty--have sometimes felt loose, too filled with rich talk at the expense of incident. Here, the talk (wonderfully salty and vigorous without seeming archaic or forced) is in the service of a lively and convincing plot. Middle-aged Moline Bedwell, having survived a disastrous marriage and the death of several loved ones, returns home to Resurrection, Missouri, in the Ozarks, in search of sanctuary. But solace is in short supply: The wonderfully named Heart Hog corporation wants to buy up much of the land around Resurrection for development, effectively splitting the townsfolk into two warring camps--those hungry for the freedom they believe money and change will bring, and those convinced that what's best about Resurrection is its isolation. Moline also encounters Dayrell Bell, the still handsome love of her youth. She'd left Resurrection in the aftermath of an accident that left Dayrell badly injured, and a young girl dead. Dayrell, it turns out, is as charming, and seemingly as wayward, as ever. He also still seems to labor under the influence of his violent, self-destructive brother McCall, who's been recruited by Heart Hog to apply pressure to those unwilling to give up their land. Moline finds herself reluctantly drawn into the battle on the side of the preservationists, and back into Dayrell's orbit. Meanwhile, Agee gently peels away the many layers of history that accumulate when a family has lived in one place for a very long time. There's a pleasing and believable succession of secrets revealed. And Moline and Dayrell's wary courtship is among the most brambly, and original, in recent fiction. One of the best novels by anyone writing today about the old, long-settled corner of the South.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Viking