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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Laura Chappell is a self-described spinster, a respected teacher and beloved daughter, sister, niece, and aunt. Laura's world, small and predictable, is both a taunt and a comfort in which she's determined to find contentment. Considered unmarriageable at 31, she's relieved to be set aside by friends and family as a woman with no prospects. But when her brother brings Henry, his new boss, home for dinner, Laura's small measure of contentment is revealed to be as hollow as it is contrived, and her years of deepening emptiness are no longer bearable.
Seven years later, Laura's struggling to raise her two small children on Henry's Mississippi Delta farm, a place she finds frightening and foreign with its heavy rains and irksome mud. It's not the beginning -- of a marriage, a family, or a life -- that she'd dreamed of. In the middle of this uncertainty, two of the town's favorite sons return from war: Henry's handsome, charming, and damaged brother, Jamie, and Ronsel Jackson, the son of black sharecroppers and a war hero whose military record has no currency in the Jim Crow South. The unlikely friendship that develops between these two veterans, the comfort that Laura tentatively seeks from Jamie, and the 1940s Mississippi where a blind eye is turned on so many wrongs all fan the flames of this powerful firestorm of a first novel to its inevitable conclusion. (Summer 2008 Selection)