Cold Sassy Tree

( 140 )

Overview

On July 5, 1906, scandal breaks in the small town of Cold Sassy, Georgia, when the proprietor of the general store, E. Rucker Blakeslee, elopes with Miss Love Simpson. He is barely three weeks a widower, and she is only half his age and a Yankee to boot. As their marriage inspires a whirlwind of local gossip, fourteen-year-old Will Tweedy suddenly finds himself eyewitness to a family scandal, and that’s where his adventures begin.

Cold Sassy Tree is the undeniably entertaining ...

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Cold Sassy Tree

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Overview

On July 5, 1906, scandal breaks in the small town of Cold Sassy, Georgia, when the proprietor of the general store, E. Rucker Blakeslee, elopes with Miss Love Simpson. He is barely three weeks a widower, and she is only half his age and a Yankee to boot. As their marriage inspires a whirlwind of local gossip, fourteen-year-old Will Tweedy suddenly finds himself eyewitness to a family scandal, and that’s where his adventures begin.

Cold Sassy Tree is the undeniably entertaining and extraordinarily moving account of small-town Southern life in a bygone era. Brimming with characters who are wise and loony, unimpeachably pious and deliciously irreverent, Olive Ann Burns’s classic bestseller is a timeless, funny, and resplendent treasure.

A timeless, funny, resplendent novel about romance and adolescence, and how people lived and died in a small Southern town at the turn of the century.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Rich with emotion, humor and tenderness." The Washington Post

"One of the best portraits of small-town Southern life ever written."—Pat Conroy

"One beautiful book. Better than To Kill A Mockingbird."—Shirley Abbott

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618919710
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/4/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 131,224
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Olive Ann Burns was born in 1924 on a farm in Banks County, Georgia, and went to school in nearby Commerce, which was the model for Cold Sassy. She attended Mercer University in Macon, Georgia; received a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and for ten years was on the Sunday magazine staff of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. She turned to fiction writing as a respite during treatment for cancer. She completed Cold Sassy Tree and a partial manuscript for its sequel, Leaving Cold Sassy, before her death in 1990.

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Read an Excerpt

Cold Sassy Tree


By Olive Ann Burns

MacMillan Publishing Company.

Copyright © 1985 Olive Ann Burns
All right reserved.

ISBN: 081613880X

Chapter One

1
Three weeks after Granny Blakeslee died, Grandpa came to our house for his early morning snort of whiskey, as usual, and said to me, "Will Tweedy? Go find yore mama, then run up to yore Aunt Loma's and tell her I said git on down here. I got something to say. And I ain't a-go'n say it but once't."
"Yessir."
"Make haste, son. I got to git on to the store."
Mama made me wait till she pinned the black mourning band for Granny on my shirt sleeve. Then I was off. Any time Grandpa had something to say, it was something you couldn't wait to hear.
That was eight years ago on a Thursday morning, when Grandpa Blakeslee was fifty-nine and I was fourteen. The date was July 5, 1906. I know because Grandpa put it down in the family Bible, and also Toddy Hughes wrote up for the Atlanta paper what happened to me on the train trestle that day and I still have the clipping. Besides that, I remember it was right after our July the Fourth celebration-the first one held in Cold Sassy, Georgia, since the War Between the States.
July 5, 1906, was three months after the big earthquake in San Francisco and about two months after a stranger drove through Cold Sassy in a Pope-Waverley electric automobile that got stalled trying to cross the railroad tracks. I pushed it up the incline and the man let me ride as far as the Athens highway.
July 5, 1906, was a year after my great-grandmother on the Tweedy side died for the second and last time out in Banks County. It was six months after my best friend, Bluford Jackson, got firecrackers for Christmas and burned his hand on one and died of lockjaw ten days later. And like I said, it was only three weeks after Granny Blakeslee went to the grave.
During those three weeks, Grandpa Blakeslee had sort of drawn back inside his own skin. Acted like I didn't mean any more to him than a stick of stovewood. On the morning of July 5th, he stalked through the house and into our company room without even speaking to me.
Granny never would let him keep his corn whiskey at home. He kept it in the company room at our house, which was between the depot and downtown, and came by for a snort every morning on his way to work. I and my little redheaded sister, Mary Toy, always followed him down the hall, and he usually gave us each a stick of penny candy before shutting the company room door in our faces. While our spit swam over hoarhound or peppermint, we'd hear the floorboards creak in the closet, then a silence, then a big "H-rumph!" and a big satisfied "Ah-h-h-h!" He would come out smiling, ready for the day, and pat Mary Toy's head as he went past her.
But this particular morning was different. For one thing, Mary Toy had gone home with Cudn Temp the day before. And Grandpa, instead of coming out feeling good, looked like somebody itching for a fight. That's when he said, "Will Tweedy?" (He always called me both names except when he called me son.) Said, "Will Tweedy? Go find yore mama, then run up to yore Aunt Loma's and tell her I said git on down here."
Lots of people in Cold Sassy had a telephone, including us. Grandpa didn't. He had one at the store so he could phone orders to the wholesale house in Athens, but he was too stingy to pay for one at home. Aunt Loma didn't have a phone, either. She and Uncle Camp were too poor. That's why I had to go tell her.
I ran all the way, my brown and white bird dog, T.R., bounding ahead. As usual when we got to Aunt Loma's, the dog plopped down on the dirt sidewalk in front of her house to wait. He couldn't go up in the dern yard because of the dern cats, of which there were eighteen or twenty at least. They would scratch his eyes out if he went any closer.
I found Aunt Loma sitting at the kitchen table, her long curly red hair still loose and tousled, the dirty breakfast dishes pushed back to clear a space. With one cat in her lap and another licking an oatmeal bowl on the table, she sat drinking coffee and reading a book of theater plays.
Mama never knew how often Aunt Loma put pleasure before duty like that. Mama liked to stay in front of her work. But then Loma was young-just twenty-and sloven.
When I told her what Grandpa said, she slammed her book down so hard, the cap leaped off the table. "Why don't you just tell him I'm busy." But even as she spoke she stood up, gulped some coffee, set down the cup still half full, and rushed upstairs to change into a black dress on account of her mother having just died and all. When she came down, carrying fat, sleepy Campbell Junior, her mass of red hair was combed, pinned up, and draped with what she called "my genteel black veil."
Campbell Junior pulled at the veil all the way to our house, and Aunt Loma fussed all the way. When we got there, she handed the baby over to our cook, Queenie, and hurried in where Grandpa was pacing the front all, his high-top black shoes squeaking as he walked.
I couldn't help noticing how in only three weeks as a widower he already looked like one. His dark bushy hair and long gray beard were tangled. The heavy, droopy mustache had some dried food stuck on it. His black hat, pants, and vest were dusty and the homemade white shirt rusty with tobacco juice. Granny always prided herself on keeping his wild hair and beard trimmed, his shirts clean, his pants brushed and "nice." Now that she was gone, he couldn't do for himself very well, having only the one hand, but he wouldn't let Mama or Aunt Loma do for him.
"Mornin', Pa," Aunt Loma grumped.
"Is that y'all, Will?" Mama called from the dining room, where she was closing windows and pulling down shades to keep out the morning sun. We waited in the front hall till she hurried in, her hair still in a thick plait down one side of her neck. I always thought she looked pretty with it like that-almost like a young girl. Mama was a plain person, like Granny, and didn't dress fancy the way Aunt Loma did every time she stuck her nose out of the house. Even at home Aunt Loma was fancy. She wouldn't of been caught dead in an apron made out of a flour sack, whereas Mama had on one that still read Try Skylark Self-Rising Flour right across the chest. The words hadn't washed out yet, which I was sure Aunt Loma noticed as she said crossly, "Mornin', Sister."
Taking off the apron as if we had real company, Mama said to me, "Son, you go gather the eggs, hear? With Mary Toy gone, you got to gather the eggs."
"Yes'm." My feet dragged me toward the back hall.
"Let them aiggs wait, Mary Willis," Grandpa ordered. "I want Will Tweedy to hear what I come to say. He'll know soon enough anyways." Then he stomped toward the open front door and put his hand on the knob as if all he planned to say was good-bye-or maybe more like he was fixing to put a match to a string of firecrackers and then run before they went off.
My mother asked, nervous-like, "You want us all to go sit in the parlor, sir?"
He shook his head. "Naw, Mary Willis, it won't take long enough to set down for." He took off his black hat and laid it on the table, pulled at his mustache, scratched through the white streak in his beard, and turned those deep blue eyes on Mama and Aunt Loma, his grown children, standing together puzzled and uneasy. When he began his announcement, you could tell he had practiced it. "Now, daughters, you know I was true to yore mother. Miss Mattie Lou was a fine wife. A good cook. A real good woman. Beloved by all in this here town, and by me, as y'all know."
Hearing Grandpa go on about Granny made my throat ache. Mama and Aunt Loma went to sobbing out loud, their arms around each other.
"Now quit yore blubberin', Mary Willis. Hesh up, Loma. I ain't finished." Then his voice softened. "Since yore ma's passin' I been a-studyin' on our life together. Thirty-six year we had, and they was good years. I want y'all to know I ain't never go'n forget her."
"Course you w-won't, Pa," said my mother, sobbing.
"But she's gone, just like this here hand a-mine." He held up his left arm, the shirt sleeve knotted as usual just below the elbow. Grandpa's blue eyes were suddenly glassy with unspilled tears. He struggled to get aholt of himself, then went on. "Like I said, she's gone now. So I been studyin' on what to do. How to make out. Well, I done decided, and when I say what I come to say I want y'all to know they ain't no disrespect to her intended." Grandpa opened the door wider. He was about to light his firecrackers.
"Now what I come to say," he blurted out, "is I'm aimin' to marry Miss Love Simpson."
Mama's and Aunt Loma's mouths dropped open and their faces went white. They both cried out, "Pa, you cain't!"
"I done ast her and she's done said yes. And Loma, they ain't a bloomin' thang you can do bout it."
Aunt Loma's face got as red as if she'd been on the river all day, but it was Mama who finally spoke. In a timid voice she said, "Sir, Love Simpson's young enough to be your daughter! She's not more'n thirty-three or -four years old!"
"Thet ain't got a thang to do with it."
Mama put both hands up to her mouth. With a sort of whimper, she said, "Pa, don't you care what folks are go'n say?"
"I care bout you carin' what they'll say, Mary Willis. But I care a heap more bout not bein' no burden on y'all. So hesh up."
Aunt Loma was bout to burst. "Think, Pa!" she ordered, tears streaming down her face. "Just think. Ma hasn't been d-dead but three w-w-weeks!"
"Well, good gosh a'mighty!" he thundered. "She's dead as she'll ever be, ain't she? Well, ain't she?"

Continues...


Excerpted from Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns Copyright © 1985 by Olive Ann Burns. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 140 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(70)

4 Star

(37)

3 Star

(18)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(9)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 140 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Not Recommended

    Book Club read. I think I may quit this book club!!
    I'm finding this book very hard to get though. I tell myself before reading, I need to work on reading my book. (Boy H'owdy) Work it is! The dialect is difficut to focus. I'm half way though forcing myself to finish.
    I don't care about the characters, not enough depth. The story is boring, petty and drawn out. I'll be glad when it's over.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2012

    I really wanna read this book but it's kinda expensive.

    Can someone tell me if the book is worth the money?

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 6, 2011

    Magnificent beyond...

    I have the paper back book given to me as a gift from my librarian. I just loved this book. It wa so sweet,loving, and of course funny. Although it was a long book it was slow at first the ending was so wonderful it made me cry. If anyone should be going throuh any difficulies and decisions i highly recomend u read this book. Some parts are a little strange fyi. I would also consider this book to be a romance novel too. If anyone reads tis and u dont mind long books read this. Oh and i almost forgot, here is a sequel to th book called leaving cold sassy which i am looking for. ALL LOVERS WHO HAVE READ THE BOOK MUST READ SEQUEL!!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 26, 2011

    I read about 100 books a year and Cold Sassy Tree remains my favorite! I love Grandpa and the reverance he shows for Grandma......humorous but touching!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2012

    Hardy 1

    I walked barefoot down the smooth wooden stairs onto the shiny dark wood floor. "Breakfast!" Called my mom, Kennedy. I turned right from the stairs and into the kitchen. Mom was stirring a bowl of pancake batter, her shoulder length shiny black hair tied over her shoulder in an aqua scrunchie. "Happy birthday honey! Can you set out plates?" She asked, turning toward me. She was wearing her BEST MOTHER EVA apron and huge golden hoops in her ears. I could see her pink bunny slippers poking out underneath her long apron, so I could tell she was still wearing her silky blue duckie pj's. I nodded. Her outfit was rediculous, but I couldn't speak out while I was still in my own pajama's. I was wearing short hot pink pants and a white spaghetti strap tank with Hello Kitty's face on it. I reached into the neatly carved peanut butter colored cabnets and pulled out four leaf plates with leaves molded onto the corners. I walked under an archway to the right and entered the dining room. A glass door looked out onto the stone walkway leading toward the back. I set the plates around the mahogany table covered with a white silky table cloth with golden embroidery. I stopped to admire my nails. I had just painted them glittery gold. Looking over them, a stack of fresh blueberry pancakes rose from a serving plate. Mom had also set out Farmland Fresh Maple Syrup, a block of Margirine, and grape and peach jam straight from the orchards. Shay walked into the kitchen, rubbing her eyes. She had her honey colored hair done in two pigtails, and her brown freckles made her green eyes pop. Her nightgown was white with pink lace on the bottom. She had turned eight on November 17th. Today was February 16th, my thirteenth birthday. The day I got my savvy. "Get the silverware Penny," mom instructed my sister. Penny yawned and opened another cupboard, pulling out glass cups. She opened the silver fridge and took out the orange juice. She poured some for herself and mom. "OJ?" She called to me. "Sure," I shrugged. My hair was short. I always cut my own hair. It reached to just above my shoulders and was normally chestnut brown, but I had dyed it permanently coral and purple last winter. Penny set the glasses on the table and went back to get forks, knives, and spoons. She opened a drawer and grabbed four of each before setting them back on the table. She pulled out her chair. Mom had ordered a new rug because Penny had a tendancy to scrape her chair against the floor. I loved the design, it was golden with sage green leaves and vines. Crimson lilies bloomed in each corner. I heard a car pull into the driveway, and looked out the window through the blinds. Dad was home! He pulled into the driveway in his sleek black car. He worked as a lawyer, and he was so famous that sometimes he had to travel all over the world. He had come home from India early for my birthday, it ws kinda important. He stepped out of the car in his neat black suit, his leather shoes, and dark shades. His dark golden brown hair was combed neatly. There were a stack of folders under his arm. He opened the front door and Penny immediately jumped into his arm. "Hey there, Lucky Penny," he greeted, holding her. Don't worry, she doesn't weigh much. Lucky Penny is Penny's nickname. Her full name is Penny Abigale Hendrix. I am Mixy Fern Hendrix. Dad is Heath.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2012

    I absolutely adore this book. I was required to read this for my

    I absolutely adore this book. I was required to read this for my Lit. class, and if I hadn't been required to read it, I would never have known the greatness of this author. This book has become one of my favorite books. ( I'm contemplating reading this again, and I NEVER read books twice; no matter how good.) This book made me laugh, cry, and ponder things in my own life. AN ABSOLUTE MUST-READ!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2012

    One of my favorites of all time

    How i wish the amazing Olive Ann Burns could have shared more of her amazing talent with us before she passed too soon. This is one of the sweetest, most humorous books ever written.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2012

    A book

    This was a good book after you get past the first couple of chapters because it seeems to repeat itself but the rest is just wonderful.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2012

    Ugh bad read

    I had to read this over the summer for school and i hated it so much! It just so slow and pointless. I had to fight to get done with it. I love reading but this is honestly one of the worst book i have ever read. Dont get it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    It's life...

    I loved this book...more surprising, my husband loved this book. It is filled with with the day to day small wins and losses we all understand and identify with. read it and feel good.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 1999

    Cold Sassy Tree

    I believe that this is one of the best written American novels of the 20th century. Ms. Burns gets us into Will's life as no other author could. The book is realistic and life-relating.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2014

    interesting times

    My son has to read this for freshman lit. He is not enjoying it, he does not enjoy reading anything. I am. Shows interesting story of a family in the south way back when...interesting, light and enjoyable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2013

    have been reading this book about once every 5 years since I fi

    have been reading this book about once every 5 years since I first was introduced to it in the mid-eighties. It is a wonderful story! Set in the South in the early 1900's, it is a funny and touching "slice of life" novel that engrosses and entertains! Olive Ann Burns is especially good at developing interesting and humorous characters! I highly recommend this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2013

    This should be on every classic must-read list. I read it as a r

    This should be on every classic must-read list. I read it as a required alternative to another book in my English class, and I'm so glad I did. It has changed my life as no other book has. This story is not just about a young boy growing up in a rural southern town. It is about love, guilt, death, morality, hope, and unexpected friendship. I'm not usually so emotionally affected by a single book, but I discovered feelings I never knew I had. I felt I knew Will Tweedy, and I cried along with him and the rest. This book is brilliant. It led me to question myself, and it changed my life for the better. Everyone deserves to feel that way about a story like this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Really enjoyed this book!!!

    I loved this book! I noticed some people didn't think there was good character development, but I completely disagree! I loved each of the characters and most especially Grandpa!! I laughed a lot throughout the story. I cannot wait to read the sequel!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2013

    Great book!

    This is by far one of the best books I have read. It is funny cause I plan to move to Commerce. A great book about the south back in the 1900s.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2013

    One of the best books ever!

    And also read "Leaving Cold Sassy" even though Burns died before finishing it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2012

    Cold Sassy Tree

    This book is really good and its a very classical book! I garntee you will like iy

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2012

    Great

    Great is all i can say the characters are amazing and i love the book haha a romance\comedy\history!!!!!! Love this book!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2012

    I loved this book. I have read it several times.

    I love this book. I have read it several times. Cold Sassy Tree is one of my favorites. The author was in her eighties when she wrote this book to critical acclaim. She started a sequal Under Cold Sassy Tree, but died before she finished it. She even worked on it while she was in the hospital. That book was finished by someone else. It was also very good. It was hard to tell where the other author started writting. I highly recommend both of these novels to all book lovers.



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