A haunting, slow-burn intergenerational family saga.

BELOVED MOTHER

Hunter offers a debut historical novel about three women’s difficult lives in rural 20th-century Appalachia.

In Covington, Virginia, in 1923, 13-year-old Mona Parsons, a willful child of a local family, is lured away from town by Jackson Slocomb, a predator from Pennsylvania who takes her to North Carolina. Jackson scars her face, rapes her, and gets her pregnant, but a Cherokee farmer named Tall Corn takes her away from him. She becomes Tall Corn’s wife and is renamed Two Tears. With the help of her mother-in-law, a healer and sage named Beloved Mother, she gives birth to a son, Briar. Tall Corn raises the boy as his own for 10 years while Beloved Mother trains Two Tears as her replacement. But when Tall Corn dies from an accidental leg wound, Beloved Mother curses her white in-laws and drives them from their land. Later, Anna Parsons, Mona’s younger sister, runs off with a man named Clint Goodman who promises to take her to a city. They end up in the Breakline mining camp near the Kentucky border, where she meets a Cherokee midwife named Granny Slocomb who’s related to Jackson. Anna has a baby as the result of an affair with the mining supervisor and names her Lily Marie Goodman. As the years pass, the histories of these women become progressively intertwined, and the tragedies of the Cherokee people assert themselves in their lives. Hunter’s prose is lyrical and provides frequent, vivid asides about the nature spirits of Cherokee mythology: “Ordinary June days in Carolina gather enough heat to tassel corn, but Sister Sun cannot convince the ground to hold her warmth this season. And Great Spirit is not cooperating, so she drags a dingy anvil shaped cloud over her face and sulks.” The novel’s plot builds very slowly, with its quiet storylines gradually unfolding over the course of hundreds of pages. The payoffs take a long time to arrive, and don’t always satisfy, when they finally do. However, the story finds its strength in its myth-infused setting, where curses and destinies seem to loom in every shadow.

A haunting, slow-burn intergenerational family saga.

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-934610-98-5

Page Count: 294

Publisher: Bluewater Publications

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more