COLD SASSY TREE by Olive Anon Bums


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A folksy, foxy down-Georgia-way tale, lubricated with tangy 1906 dialect--all about the scandalizing' and gaskin' that goes on in the town of Cold Sassy when one-armed Grandpa Blakeslee (a new widower) up and marries pretty, 30-ouch milliner Miss Love Simpson. The narrator is 14-year-old Will Tweedy, who's on hand when his Grandpa announces to daughters Mary Willis (Will's Ma) and Aunt Lamia the news about his upcoming wedding--no disrespect to departed Grandma intended. (After all, ""She's dead as she'll ever be, ain't she?"") And Will watches as Grandpa--fabled one-punch fighter, Confederate vet, owner/operator of a General Merchandise emporium, stingy autocrat--changes under the influence of his new bride. Suddenly there's rollicking music coming from the parlor piano; the lively Miss Love trims Grandpa's beard; there's a trip to New York for both; Miss Love talks him into buying an automobile--and even selling the delightful driving machines! But, though Grandpa's a new man while Miss Love is admired for her cultured talk and admirable headgear, family and neighbors are appalled. So, with some virtuoso snooping, Will discovers some odd facts about the May/December union--the biggest shocker being that Miss Love is wife in name only, having wed, as she had honestly explained to her suitor, only for a home of her own. Will she always be? What's the dark secret in her past? Who is that big Texan who barges in and wants to take her away? And meanwhile, in between sleuthings, Will has adventures and some revelations of his own: he's almost killed by a train, rescued by mill-girl Lightfoot McLendon; his consciousness about the despised mill children is raised a bit; he has an on-going battle with Aunt Lamia, married to no-good Camp (Will spreads the rumor that Lamia once nursed a pig); and it's Will who offers the compassionate graveside oratory at Grandpa's jolly, town-gathering funeral. Life with Grandfather--chummy nostalgia in red clay country, uninspired but pleasant.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1984
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields/Houghton Mifflin