King's Oak

( 33 )

Overview

He would make her whole again

Leaving behind a disastrous marriage, Andy Calhoun moves to the small town of Pemberton, Georgia, "in search of banality." What she discovers, though, is not serenity, but Tom Dabney, a passionate and magical man.

An exuberant poet who worships the wilderness surrounding Pemberton, Tom is everything Andy doesn't need in her life right now. But despite warnings from friends, Andy is soon deeply immersed in Tom's ...

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King's Oak

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Overview

He would make her whole again

Leaving behind a disastrous marriage, Andy Calhoun moves to the small town of Pemberton, Georgia, "in search of banality." What she discovers, though, is not serenity, but Tom Dabney, a passionate and magical man.

An exuberant poet who worships the wilderness surrounding Pemberton, Tom is everything Andy doesn't need in her life right now. But despite warnings from friends, Andy is soon deeply immersed in Tom's life and his world . . . a world he will do anything to protect. When Tom declares war on the enemy poisoning his woods, it becomes clear that Andy must choose between her life with Tom and the one she left behind . . . if Pemberton society will take her back.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061099274
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/28/2001
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 608
  • Sales rank: 304,088
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Rivers Siddons

Anne Rivers Siddons's bestselling novels include Nora, Nora; Sweetwater Creek; Islands; and Fox's Earth. She is also the author of the nonfiction work John Chancellor Makes Me Cry. She and her husband divide their time between Charleston, South Carolina, and Brooklin, Maine.

Biography

Born in 1936 in a small town near Atlanta, Anne Rivers Siddons was raised to be a dutiful daughter of the South -- popular, well-mannered, studious, and observant of all the cultural mores of time and place. She attended Alabama's Auburn University in the mid-1950s, just as the Civil Rights Movement was gathering steam. Siddons worked on the staff of Auburn's student newspaper and wrote an editorial in favor of integration. When the administration asked her to pull the piece, she refused. The column ran with an official disclaimer from the university, attracting national attention and giving young Siddons her first taste of the power of the written word.

After a brief stint in the advertising department of a bank, Siddons took a position with the up and coming regional magazine Atlanta, where she worked her way up to senior editor. Impressed by her writing ability, an editor at Doubleday offered her a two-book contract. She debuted in 1975 with a collection of nonfiction essays; the following year, she published Heartbreak Hotel, a semi-autobiographical novel about a privileged Southern coed who comes of age during the summer of 1956.

With the notable exception of 1978's The House Next Door, a chilling contemporary gothic compared by Stephen King to Shirley Jackson's classic horror novel The Haunting of Hill House, Siddons has produced a string of well-written, imaginative, and emotionally resonant stories of love and loss -- all firmly rooted in the culture of the modern South. Her books are consistent bestsellers, with 1988's Peachtree Road (1988) arguably her biggest commercial success. Described by her friend and peer, Pat Conroy, as "the Southern novel for our generation," the book sheds illuminating light on the changing landscape of mid-20th-century Atlanta society.

Although her status as a "regional" writer accounts partially for Siddons' appeal, ultimately fans love her books because they portray with compassion and truth the real lives of women who transcend the difficulties of love and marriage, family, friendship, and growing up.

Good To Know

Although she is often compared with another Atlanta author, Margaret Mitchel, Siddons insists that the South she writes about is not the romanticized version found in Gone With the Wind. Instead, her relationship with the region is loving, but realistic. "It's like an old marriage or a long marriage. The commitment is absolute, but the romance has long since worn off...I want to write about it as it really is: I don't want to romanticize it."

Siddons' debut novel Heartberak Hotel was turned into the 1989 movie Heart of Dixie, starry Ally Sheedy, Virginia Madsen, and Phoebe Cates.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Sybil Anne Rivers Siddons (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Charleston, South Carolina and a summer home in Maine overlooking Penobscot Bay
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 9, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Atlanta, Georgia
    1. Education:
      B.A., Auburn University, 1958; Atlanta School of Art, 1958

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



Early in the last decade of the century, the earth began to die in earnest, though few of us noticed, and as in all times of unperceived cataclysm, the very air shuddered with myths, legends, and wondrous occurrences. Goat Creek lit up for the first time, for instance, on the very day that I came to Pemberton. Tom Dabney told me that, only much later. I might have thought that he spoke allegorically, since by then I knew that he saw signs and omens everywhere. Tom saw portent in the fact that he woke up in the morning.

But then, only days later, Scratch Purvis told me the same thing.

"Lit right up like there was light bulbs way down in it, blue ones," he said in his ruined wheeze. "I could see it shinin' all the way down to where it runs into, the Big Silver. I knowed then that something considerable was comin', and sho nuff, that very afternoon, there you was."

So I believed it then, this story of the shining, smoking creek. Scratch, who did have a kind of blinded and searching Sight, nevertheless did not speak of that which he was not certain. If he, too, said that Goat Creek had lit up, then light up, by God, it did. The hows and whys of it were entirely irrelevant.

Goat Creek: an unlovely and earthbound name for that beautiful and haunted finger of dark Georgia water. Still as a breath-scummed black mirror in the late summer; dreaming in the steel-blue autumn like a somnolent reptile; ice-rimmed and shut down and secret under the bled-out skies of winter; drifted with the stilled snowfall of dogwood and honeysuckle in the long, magical spring, Goat Creek loops and laces its way some twenty-odd miles from itssource, a hidden spring somewhere in the trackless river swamp that covers much of Baines County in southwest Georgia, to the place where it gives up its life to the Big Silver River.

In some places along its course, Goat Creek runs shal low and sunstruck through deep grasses and reeds, through open fields and clearings in the vast woods around the Big Silver. Its life there is clear and open, the province of busy waterfowl and industrious raccoons and bees and turtles and snakes and, I have been told, an occasional small, undistinguished alligator. I have never seen a gator, though I have seen the deadly roiling of the black water as one took a baby wild pig, and heard the terrible snortings, and the thin screams of the piglet, and I saw the black water redden with the piglet's blood. So I know that the gators are there.

Deer by the hundreds come to drink at the muddy verges of these shallows. It is possible to see the mishmash left by their delicate cloven hooves almost any morning. Wild pigs chuff there, too, feral and stupid. And in season, the trees around the open fields bloom with the ugly flora of wooden and metal stands, refuge of camouflaged hunters with rifles and compound bows and an astonishing array of devices to lure, by smell and sound, the slender white-tailed deer of the Big Silver.

But mostly Goat Creek runs in secret, in an eternal semitwilight of black-green trees and hanging moss and undergrowth so dense that it is like blood or darkness, a separate element. Its life here is a secret life in all ways, as secret as the place where it begins. I have never seen the spring that is its birthplace, but I have come to know much of its secret darkness and many of its sunny interstices, and I have slept and eaten and loved in one of those, and I have never forgotten, since the first day I saw it, that Goat Creek is a finger that points to Pemberton.

I came to Pemberton chasing banality like a hound a rabbit and found instead a lush, slow beauty so insistent and particular that it frightened me. After my initial visit to Tish, to scout the lay of the land and attend the interviews Charlie had arranged for me, I think I would have backed out of the whole thing because of the unease that beauty caused me, except that by that time Tish had found a place for Hilary and me to live, and had even paid the deposit on it.

"You have to come now," she said in her rich neigh. "I've told everybody you would, and you'll make me out a liar, and in Pemberton that's worse than letting your roots show. The ones in your hair, I mean. It's perfectly okay if the others do. In fact, they'd better, or nobody will ask you to their party."

"I don't have any of either kind," I said.

"Nonsense," she said. "There's not a thing wrong with your roots. After all, you're a Calhoun. That name around here is like Cabot in Boston."

"You know perfectly well I'm not a Calhoun. Christopher is a Calhoun. I'm an Andropoulis. You got any Cabotopoulises around here?"

"Don't be stupid, Andy," she said evenly, in her best Student Government voice. "It's the right thing to do, for you and Hilary both. You've got to get that child settled down before school starts. And you've got to settle, too."

It wasn't so much the argument as the weight of her presence, her sheer, easy authority, that decided me. Tish was neither a fool nor a bully, and she had been a loving friend for over twenty years. Her enveloping presence had always had an enervating, soporific effect on me, and I was tired with fifteen years' worth of corrosive fatigue...

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Reading Group Guide

Plot Summary
Fleeing a disastrous marriage and an abusive husband, Andy Calhoun and her frightened young daughter, Hillary, head for the small town of Pemberton, Georgia, "in search of banality" and calm. Instead, she finds herself caught up in the intrigues of the elite old families of Pemberton. Just as she begins to assimilate to her new world of horse racing and society dinners, she meets Tom Dabney, the wild prodigal son of Pemberton society who lives in a magical house out in the woods. An exuberant poet who worships the wilderness, Tom both fascinates and repels Andy. Rumors about Tom's strange pagan rites hint at possible madness, and Andy resolves to keep herself and her daughter away from him. Nevertheless, against her better judgment, Andy finds herself becoming immersed in his life and his strange, mystical world. He and his house at Goat's Creek prove to have a profound healing effect on the traumatized Hillary, who longs to learn all the ways of the forest from Tom. As Hillary develops into a woodland nymph, adept at deer tracking and archery, her mother, Andy, is slowly pulled into Tom's charismatic orbit. But when the fauna of Goat's Creek begin to suddenly develop mysterious tumors, however, Tom truly becomes a madman. When he discovers his precious woods are being threatened by the wastes from a nearby nuclear power plant Tom declares open war on the enemy and Andy must choose between her life with Tom and the more sane one she left behind, if Pemberton society will take her back.Topics for Discussion
1. How does Tom's system of thous and its manifest itself in his daily life? To what extent do Hillary and Andy adopt it for themselves? Isit a practical way of living life? How might his system run into conflict with Pemberton society and the world at large?

2. Is Tom a saint, a madman, or a criminal? Is there a way of being one without the other? Does his status change through the course of the novel? What is it about Tom's 'absolutes' that attracts Andy? How do absolutes frighten her and threaten her world?

3. The men of Goat's Creek tell Andy, "we believe that you have gifts we would like to add to our arsenal, if you will." What gifts do you think they are referring to? What role does she play in the eventual cleansing of the woods? What role do the woods play in the cleansing of her life?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 33 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(22)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2000

    AN INTERESTING DEPARTURE FROM THE NORM

    Siddons, a very competent writer in my estimation, tells a strange and alluring story of one man's love of nature and the wilderness around him. The characters in this novel are vivid and attractive and the story has a compelling difference..A page turner for sure.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2004

    intriging

    This is a hard to put down. Keeps you wondering what will happen next!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted May 22, 2012

    Real review?

    Was looking for a real review of this book. Since l didnt find one l will offer mine. This is a strange story. Not what l was expecting. Though i was compelled to finish the book its not one i would recommend to anyone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted April 9, 2014

    Jaystar

    The almost metallic grey tom step forward to meet the newcomers, he waited for more to gather before he made announcements. With the sun shining upon his pelt, it blazed blue under its rays. Jaystar lifted his glistening golden orbs to the sky, sending a quick prayer.``Jaystar

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

    Posted February 1, 2014

    Rainwhisker

    Oakstar, is there medicine cat? Squirrel will need ome

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

    Posted January 22, 2014

    Lillyspirit and Starfur

    Two starclan cats entered the camp.

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

    Posted February 24, 2014

    Darkpaw

    Oakstar...i thought i would like this clan she runs out of the clan

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

    Posted January 17, 2014

    Lockheart

    Hes from Sandclan. There isnt a run away mit there

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

    Posted January 16, 2014

    Feathermist

    I love you and both our kits she said happily

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

    Posted May 23, 2013

    The shadow

    Pinned him down and took him to tre res 5.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013

    To Oakpaw~

    Someone wants you to be forcemated!! Read the post at 'warrior' result 2.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2012

    Humph

    Read mine at norman douglas first res

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2012

    Crystalfrost

    Awesome! I'm totaly gonna keep reading!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2012

    Blueshine

    Awesome

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted October 28, 2012

    MAKE SURE SHADEOAK SEES THIS

    HELLOW ITS ME SHADOW STAR COME JOIN SILVER CLAN AT FOXY 3 RESULT

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2012

    Badgerpaw ( now badgerfrost )

    Good! I loved eeeet :3 haha

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2012

    Mockngjay

    It was ok:)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2012

    Snowbird

    Good job! XD

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2012

    Hailstorm

    Reactions: :D #_# :D

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2012

    Lightningpaw

    Keep up the great work! It was really interesting. Length wa a lot better this time.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews

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