An edgy and compelling story of Henry McAllen and his wife Laura as they try to build a living out of the muddy fields in the Mississippi Delta in 1946. Henry loves the land but Laura has to endure the hardships of living with no indoor plumbing or electricity and extreme isolation when it rains and the bridge to town becomes impassable. All this might even be bearable if it wasn’t for Henry’s hateful racist father who lives with them. There are reverberations of the Second World War when sons return home with demons of their own. It is the friendship of these brothers-in-arms that sets the stage for tragedy and the brutality of prejudice in the deep south. The story, told in riveting personal narratives, had me hooked immediately ( it starts off with the digging of a grave) and I had a hard time putting it down. My only criticism would be that the characters are static and don’t develop much. The stuff that happens just happens, there is little growth because of what the characters go through.
Barbara Kingsolver, a well respected author, endorses the book and was a support to Jordan in the writing of it. This was Hillary Jordan’s first novel. It was written in 2008 and I don’t know how it never came across my radar before. She wrote another in 2011 called ‘When She Woke‘ which reviewers have called provocative and a good choice for book club type discussion. I do look forward to reading it and hope to post on it soon.