A haunting, slow-burn intergenerational family saga.



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

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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