The Devil's Dream

( 3 )


Now back in print from the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Girls.

It was in 1833 or '34 that Moses Bailey brought young Kate Malone down to Cold Spring Holler to be his wife. But Moses, wanting to become a preacher like his daddy was, left Kate time and again to look after the kids while he went out in search of a sign from God. Though he warned them about the evils of playing the fiddle, a kind of music he likened to the devil's own laughter, it passed the time ...

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The Devil's Dream

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Now back in print from the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Girls.

It was in 1833 or '34 that Moses Bailey brought young Kate Malone down to Cold Spring Holler to be his wife. But Moses, wanting to become a preacher like his daddy was, left Kate time and again to look after the kids while he went out in search of a sign from God. Though he warned them about the evils of playing the fiddle, a kind of music he likened to the devil's own laughter, it passed the time for his bride and children, and soon became not just a way of life for the Baileys, but a curse that would last for generations.

The author of Oral History writes a magically entertaining epic about the popular world of country music--"a beautifully told saga of a Southern singing family down through the ages" (Boston Globe. "Her best so far."--Pat Conroy.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Smith's ( Fair and Tender Ladies ) novels always glow with the empathy she feels for her spirited Southern characters. Her latest, a rollicking hillbilly saga, traces the family of country music star Katie Cocker. In 1830s Grassy Branch, Tenn., the first Kate, member of a family known for their virtuosity on the fiddle, marries religion-obsessed Moses Bailey. Fiddle music, described by the fire-and-brimstone set as ``the voice of the Devil laughing,'' becomes her undoing, but her musical ability passes on. Smith spins a down-home tale of weddings and adulteries, many offspring--legitimate and otherwise--and thunderous ``signs from God'' in every generation. Each chapter is the equivalent of a country song, combining the tragic, the hokey, the joyous and the ironically inevitable. Among the vivid characters are Nonnie Bailey, who leaves her husband and children to run off with a quack medicine charlatan; the Grassy Branch Girls, who record legendary folk songs with the Victor Talking Machine Company; and Blackjack Johnny Raines, a pill-popping rockabilly cat. The book's zesty humor abates slightly as it catches up with Katie's own sad story of how she lost love but found religion. Still, Smith's strong, believable characters, their gossipy, matter-of-fact voices and their affection for their rustic mountain home makes this a rich, inviting multigenerational tale. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates. (July)
Library Journal
In this loving tribute to country music and its artists, Smith ( Me and My Baby View the Eclipse , LJ 2/15/90; Fair and Tender Ladies , LJ 9/15/88) traces the history of this uniquely American tradition through several generations of the Bailey family of Grassy Springs, Virginia. Starting in 1833 with the marriage of Moses Bailey, a preacher's son who thinks fiddle music is the voice of the Devil laughing, to Kate Malone, who comes from a fiddle-playing family, the Baileys are torn between their love of God and their love of music. Plain Baptist hymns and haunting Appalachian ballads shape the lives of the early generations. Grandsons R.C. and Durwood marry Lucie and Tampa, who, as the Grassy Branch Girls, take part in the early ``hillbilly recordings'' of the 1920s. Rose Annie and Blackjack Johnny Raines are the ``King and Queen of Country Music'' in the Rockabilly 1950s until Rose Annie shoots Johnny after he's cheated on her once too often. Cousin Katie Crocker abandons the bland Nashville sound of the 1960s when she cuts a traditional record with her family at the Opryland Hotel. Warm, amusing, moving, this novel represents Smith at her best. Highly recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/92.-- Wilda Williams, ``Library Journal''
Kirkus Reviews
A thoroughly entertaining eighth novel from Smith (Fair and Tender Ladies, 1988, etc.) traces the roots of an extended, country-western "singing" family from 1830's hollow to contemporary Nashville. The story opens with plans for a country Christmas family reunion at the Opreyland Hotel. Katie Cocker, superstar of country music, is gathering together her famous relatives—from Tampa Rainette, nearly 100 years old and one of the original Grassy Branch Girls, to Rose Annie, whose hit song "Subdivision Wife" is based on her own life, leaving her adoring husband for her no-good, rockabilly, childhood sweetheart. (Now she's serving time for his murder.) In the story behind the story, this "singing" family—Baileys, most of them—gets its start in Cold Spring Holler in 1833 when music-loving Kate Malone marries Moses Bailey, a self- styled preacher who thinks the fiddle is the devil's plaything. From that union comes Zeke Bailey, a generous-hearted simpleton, lover of hard work, church meeting, and fiddle-music, who inherits the land on which the Grassy Branch, a twisty little creek, flows. Zeke's offspring, R.C. (actually Zeke's wife's illegitimate son) and Durwood, carry on the musical tradition, each marrying talented women who start the Grassy Branch Girls. The next generation, which includes Rosie, Johnny and Katie, experiment briefly with the Grassy Branch Quartet, a gospel group, before their lives take them away from the hollow on separate (musical) paths. In letting each of her characters tell his story in his own voice, Smith creates a vividly labyrinthine world of family ties in which music is always a part. Clearly she is paying homage to a place and people who havecontributed so much to the American music scene. And in so doing she traces the roots and variations of country music, from primitive Baptist hymns and fiddle-playing, to gospel, rockabilly, and contemporary country western. A real treat—and an education.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425239711
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,399,113
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Lee Smith was born in Grundy, Virginia, and is the author of ten novels and four story collections.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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    Posted May 22, 2011

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