Call Your Daughter Home

Call Your Daughter Home

by Deb Spera


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Amazon July Best of the Month Pick

“Like Jill McCorkle and Sue Monk Kidd, Spera probes the comfort and strength women find in their own company.”— O Magazine

For readers of Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing and Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, this extraordinary historical debut novel follows three fierce Southern women in an unforgettable story of motherhood and womanhood.

It’s 1924 in Branchville, South Carolina and three women have come to a crossroads. Gertrude, a mother of four, must make an unconscionable decision to save her daughters. Retta, a first-generation freed slave, comes to Gertrude’s aid by watching her children, despite the gossip it causes in her community. Annie, the matriarch of the influential Coles family, offers Gertrude employment at her sewing circle, while facing problems of her own at home.

These three women seemingly have nothing in common, yet as they unite to stand up to injustices that have long plagued the small town, they find strength in the bond that ties women together. Told in the pitch-perfect voices of Gertrude, Retta, and Annie, Call Your Daughter Home is an emotional, timeless story about the power of family, community, and ferocity of motherhood.

“A mesmerizing Southern tale…Authentic, gripping, a page-turner, yet also a novel filled with language that begs to be savored.”— Lisa Wingate, New York Times Bestselling Author of Before We Were Yours

“Deb Spera is a master of voice, a master of deep-diving access to the roiling depths of human identity…An exhilarating and important book.”
— Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780778307747
Publisher: Park Row Books
Publication date: 06/11/2019
Edition description: Original
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 23,139
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Deb Spera was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and lives in Los Angeles. She owns her own television company, One-Two Punch Productions, and has executive produced such shows as Criminal Minds and Army Wives. Her work’s been published in Sixfold, Garden and Gun, and Yoga Journal. CALL YOUR DAUGHTER HOME is her first novel.

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Call Your Daughter Home 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous 11 days ago
Anonymous 12 days ago
Highly recommend this book.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I was privileged to have read an advanced readers edition and was thrilled with this authors exceptional talent . Can't wait for her next novel.
Anonymous 9 months ago
such a touching story
Anonymous 9 months ago
Liked it so much, I'm wanting more by this author
Anonymous 10 months ago
Very good work. Found myself completely immersed.
susan568SW 12 months ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book set in 1924 South Carolina after the boll weevil infestation. Annie, Gertrude and Retta are three women from very different backgrounds who are dealing with heartbreak and constant turmoil trying to keep their families together and day to day existence. This was an intense read that was hard to put down and I became totally involved with these three women. I look forward to Deb Spera's next book.
CRSK 12 months ago
”It’s easier to kill a man than a gator, but it takes the same kind of wait.” Set in the 1924, in Branchville, South Carolina, the voices of three women share their stories, their struggles, and their pain, while at the same time holding their own secrets close. ”Sometimes the years go by so fast it’s like flipping pages in a book, but a day can take so long a whole life’s gone by before the sun sets down.” Gertrude Pardee, a young white woman who is escaping her abusive husband, leaving with her four daughters in search of a home away from so many years of pain, hoping to shield her daughters from the same treatment by their father that she endured. Her daughters are Edna, fifteen, Lily, thirteen, Alma and Mary are ten and six. ”Somewhere nearby, a screen door slams and a child laughs. A whistled tune is carried through the air to my ear as clear as a songbird, though I don’t know the melody. I have neighbors near enough for me to hear them and them to hear me. I am all at once reminded of other lives beyond the one I have lived.” Annie Coles, who comes to employ Gertie, lives on her family plantation, in a house that is ”pure white and grand as the entrance to heaven” along with her husband, and has been estranged from her two adult daughters for some time. Her youngest son died very young, and tragically. She also has two adult sons. Oretta Bootles - Retta – is Annie Coles black housekeeper, the first generation of free blacks in her family, who frequently thinks of, speaks to, her daughter who died at the age of eight. Retta is married to Odell, whose health is poor following a major work related injury. Their love is sweet and strong. Retta’s chapters are gently infused with a strong spiritual sense, as she shares her feelings with God about Odell, a bargaining for his safe keeping. ”…no matter how much we look at what happened, no matter how many times we think back to what might have been if we could’ve done one thing different, no matter what, we always come up the same. We live over and over in the happening only to be left with what’s already done.” Set in an era where this area was still recovering from a boll weevil infection that affected the economy, and a few away from the Great Depression which would hit this area harder than most, this history plays out, showing the devastating effect it had on this area, and the people who lived there. At its heart, though, this is a lovely portrait of the friendship of these three women, the desperately hard times they endured, and the strength they gained through their bonds of loyalty and friendship that allowed them to endure. ”’Between us we got all the talent in the world, but we got to use every bit to pull ourselves up. We been down,’ I told them. ‘but we ain’t down no more. We got to look at this chance like we’re being born all over again.’” Originally titled ”Alligator,” the author, Deb Spera, is also a veteran of television, having been a TV producer for Criminal Minds,Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, Reaper as well as the Lifetime series Army Wives Close to two years ago, she closed a two-year first-look deal with AMC. Many thanks for the ARC provided by Harlequin – Trade Publishing (US & Canada) Park Row
sspea More than 1 year ago
The book follows the lives of three women, Gertrude a mother of four daughters and wife to an abusive husband. Annie, wife and mother, coming to terms with the breakup of her family. And Retta, first generation freed slave employed by Annie Coles family. Rettas story while important to the book was at times (in my opinion) lacking. I wanted so much more from her story. For me Gertrude saved this book, strong willed and hardened by life, tho dealt a rough hand never made excuses for herself. This book had its ups and downs, some chapters I read so quickly, and others I could not get into. The book itself was enjoyable but I probably would not recommend it.
KarenfromDothan More than 1 year ago
From debut author Deb Spera comes an absorbing, beautiful story of three very different women. One comes from a wealthy, plantation owning family with a dark secret. One is her servant, a woman with second sight, a crippled husband and a heart of gold. The last is a woman with an alcoholic, abusive husband who along with her four daughters is living on the edge of starvation. Set in 1920s South Carolina, a time when the south has been reeling from the devastation wrought by the boll weevil, a time when modern amenities like the telephone and electricity are a luxury only the rich can afford. The author has done an outstanding job of conveying the flavor of the old south, replete with its class and race divisions. The story is told from the alternating points of view of the three main characters, and what a story it is. I was hooked right from the beginning and all the way through to the very end. An excellent story, an excellent read!
357800 More than 1 year ago
Wow! 4.5 Awesome Debut Stars! "Times is desperate hard, any fool will kill you on the road for a nickel. That much is fact." 1924 rural Branchville, South Carolina is where we meet three women with three distinct alternating voices to tell the story of CALL YOUR DAUGHTER HOME. Gertrude - Oh the desperation to feed four starving children (OMG baby Mary) while fending off an evil good for nothing husband, and can you imagine trying to kill a mama gator in the swamp while she's eyeing you to protect her nest of a babies? Annie - Well to do, but has heartache and BIG family problems of her own....the biggest. No one says no to husband Edwin. Oretta - My favorite character who has special gifts and the strength to care for others no matter her station in life....another mother and wife who has suffered great loss....a wife with a memorable husband. Powerful, intense, well-done story. Would make a great movie! ****Arc provided by HARLEQUIN Trade Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***
GGGeiss More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. So well written with heartfelt character development. I felt as if I was there, in the midst of the small town, the families, the tragedies. Debra Spera is an author to remember. Thank you Netgalley and Harlequin for the opportunity ro read and review this ARC.
JulieMT More than 1 year ago
I would give this book 6 stars if they would let me. It is an incredibly beautiful book that is rich and textured in its depiction of the South in the early 1920’s. "Call Your Daughter Home" tells the story of 3 strong women who, while coming from different backgrounds, find their lives colliding and intersecting. The book tells of their journey in an unforgiving time where these women seek not only mere survival, but also grace, justice, and redemption. Throughout the book, the three main female characters display a goodness that is much larger and more defining than their often bleak circumstances. It is this goodness that allows the book to examine the dark circumstances of their lives without being either dark or depressing. Instead, it is a story of resilience and hope. At times the book read like poetry and felt like listening to a symphony, many beautiful little pieces put together to create a deep and moving experience that lasts well beyond the final note. And like a symphony, "Call Your Daughter Home" is a moving story that will continue to be thought-provoking long after the last word is read and the book is closed. I was honored to receive a free copy of this book from NetGalley and HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing, in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
4.5 but am rounding up. I was hooked from the start and I could not wait to finish this book--whenever I put it down, I looked forward to picking it up again! Story. Story. Story. Even though I figured out a bit of the plot/trajectory, I didn't care. I found this book compelling. Note: Also called Alligator. The setting: Three strong women in South Carolina in the years preceeding the Great Depression. [also populated with other, notable, secondary characters] Their lives converge. Poverty, racism, male dominance, heartache, family. Finding strength--within oneself and bonding with others. Gertrude, a mother of four daughters, with an abusive [and often drunk] husband. Dirt poor. Annie, the matriarch of the dysfunctional Coles family--influential plantation proprietors whose cotton crop was ruined by boll weevils. They have now turned to tobacco [primarily] and Annie's Sewing Circle for income. But, monied. All five children have a story. Retta, by far my favorite character. A first-generation freed slave, whose family was once owned by the Coles. I LOVED HER. And if the brief relaying of how to make a peach cobber [from Retta to Sarah] doesn't put a smile on your face, I don't know what will. Some wonderful descriptions: "Worry is something I've never understood. What good does it do, except drain possibility from the day?" "...dress is well made and lined with silk so soft I can't believe worms made it." "She bites at the bottom of her mouth like she's punishing the words that come from it." "In your place is a loud quiet." "I feel like I'm asleep and awake at the same time; it is an odd thing, but my feet put themselves one in front of the other..." "He grimaces, embarrassed to have his humanity on display. I've forgotten what humility looks like." Read this book! The only problem--you will have to wait until publication--June 11, 2019.
Sunshine1006 More than 1 year ago
South Carolina in 1924, three women with three different backgrounds. White, black, poor and rich. their lives are all intertwined together. Great character development. You can't help but feel all the emotions and feelings. So many secrets and lies. Abuse, pain and survival. Really great book. I loved everything about it. I received this book from Net Galley and Harlequin for a honest review. The opinions are my own.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
This historical southern novel sings with style and depth. It is difficult to remember that it is a debut effort - Deb Spera plays our emotions like a southern hymn. This is a book to keep and read again when the world seems too trying or you are finding the daily grind a bit too much. Taking place in the early 1920s in South Carolina just following three years of Mr. Boll Weevil destroying all the cotton, and just prior to the Great Depression, this should be a depressing story. Throw in Mr. Pardee and Mr. Coles and you would normally have a sit-down and cry. Except for these wonderful, strong, spiritual mothers, that is. Gertrude Caison Pardee is married to a lazy, abusive drunk. She has watched as their four daughters slowly starve down to hungry twigs while he drinks away his pay working for his Daddy in Reevesville. When he starts whaling on the girls as well as Gert she has to make a choice - and the only choice she has is to escape from the reach of him and his father. There is no money - they will have to literally 'run' away, but there is a rumor of work at a sewing factory called The Sewing Circle in the nearby community of Branchville. Branchville is where Gert's brother Berns and his wife Marie live and try to care for and feed the two oldest of Gert's daughters, Edna, 15, and Lily, 13. It is a sewing machine job that she knows how to do, and it comes with a house, but it is not far enough away to escape Alvin. Or his father, Otto. Retta and Odell Bootles are comfortable with what they have. They lost their only child, a daughter, at the age of eight many years since, and both work. Retta is a cook-housekeeper for the Coles, and Odell, who lost a leg working for the railroad, is now the community ragman. They live in the black community of Shake Rag, across the street from the only white resident of Shake Rag, Oretta's best friend, Mrs. Watson. It is the death of Mrs. Watson that made the job and house open up to provide a life for the Pardee girls. And there is no time to waiver - 10-year-old Alma is skinny and frail, but 6-year-old Mary is on the verge of starving to death. Retta agrees to keep her for a couple of days while Gert goes back to Reevesville for the rest of her things and gets settled into Mrs. Watson's house. Annie Coles has been married to Edward for many years. They have two grown daughters who are estranged, married, and living in Charlotte. Annie hasn't heard from them in years and does not understand the estrangement. They have two living sons, Eddie who works with his father running the plantation, and Lonnie, a stutterer, and shy, who works with his mother at the Sewing Circle factory, making feedbags and men's shirts and employing 47 women. Their third son, Buck, committed suicide when he was 12 years old. These lives come together, mesh when the community gathers for the annual Methodist revival the first week of October in the countryside, at The Camp. Annie is deeply into a hunger strike, her reaction upon finding out why her girls ran away, why Buck killed himself. The Sewing Circle is shut down for the duration of the revival, and Gert is hired to nurse Annie, and three of her daughters, already beginning to thrive, are hired to help Retta cook at the camp. And it was there, at Camp, that these three vibrant, caring women work together and clean house. I received a free electronic copy of this historical novel from Netgalley, Deb Spera, and Harlequin -Park Row.
lee2staes More than 1 year ago
This is a story told by three women who lived in the same neighborhood in rural South Carolina before the Great Depression in the 1920’s. Annie is a rich white woman, Retta is a poor black woman and Gert is a poor white woman. At first it seems that these three women have nothing in common, but they come together to overcome a number of terrible injustices including racism, extreme poverty, abuse of power, and pedophilia. They each bring out the strength and grit in each other. This is a great book. It was written in a way that it was enjoyable and heartwarming in spite of all the hardships these three women and their families endured. I didn’t want to put this book down. I highly recommend it. I was provided an ARC of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
CLynnT More than 1 year ago
I was instantly drawn to this book when I read of the setting: 1920’s South Carolina just after the boll weevil infestation. I’m intrigued by any book about the South during the long-struggling period after the Civil War when there were dirt poor whites who still felt they were better than blacks due to their upbringing. I’ve always found it interesting that the white Southerners are normally depicted as rich and lazy, sitting on the veranda fanning themselves and sipping mimosas while the maids do all the real work. In reality, the overwhelming majority of Southern whites were poor, often much worse off than the blacks they were prone to judge. This book gives us a colorful character of each discipline: the well-to-do lazy white, the trash-poor white and the hardworking black. We meet their families, walk in their shoes, and see the world through their perspective. What seems like the good life slowly evolves into the least favorable of all. The paths of these three women cross and the unraveling events to follow are down to earth and easy to believe. This book will make you think of each lady for a long while after you’ve read the last sentence. (I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thank you to Harlequin – Trade Publishing for making it available.)
TJReads More than 1 year ago
This is a southern tale of the lives and unfortunate consequences of three very different women in the 1920’s. Annie, Gertrude and Retta, they all have very different circumstances but they love, support and depend upon each other. We follow their hardships and secrets. I most enjoyed Retta and O’Dell, they were a special couple full of love and goodness. Gertrude was a determined mother just trying to protect her children and Annie is the wife of a hardhearted man with secrets of his own. The author’s research in this time frame was very well done, I learned quite a bit about the hard times of raising cotton and then switching to tobacco, plus the entrepreneurship of Lonnie and his mother in hiring women and creating a market for clothing. This is a good story of how people hold together when times get tough but also covers how women were viewed and treated by the men in this era. If you enjoy historical fiction of the south around this timeframe, you might give this a try. I’m giving it 4****’s. I was given an advanced copy from Harlequin – Trade Publishing Park Row and Net Galley for my honest review.
Shelley-S-Reviewer More than 1 year ago
Call Your Daughter Home definitely has its dark moments, but ultimately it's a story about love, forgiveness and the freedom that truth delivers. All the women were intriguing characters that you'll love. I was impacted chapter after chapter with the life changing events that took little bites out of one's soul. I came to love each character in this book with the exception of the vile men that didn't deserve to be even called human. It's amazing how the author could build characters so real you can despise some of them, feel compassion for some and root for them all in the same story, yet still feel that the characters were believable. I felt compelled to want more. If you like a book where the characters are multi-dimensional and undergo not only the trials of life, but internal journeys of discovery and redemption, this is a must-read. You can't help but care about some of the characters in this book as they pull at your heartstrings early on. For once, it was difficult for me to choose the character I liked the most, as they were all very well written and individual. What I found made this book so charming, was the family element. Through tragedy and learning, through distance and ups and downs, the characters in this book remind the reader of the value of unconditional love and family isn't always blood, what a substantial read. This story is a tale of standing up and doing what's right and learning how to take the walls down and accept some help. Gertrude and her daughters have a tragic past but they find a way to stick together and get the problem solved with the help of their neighbors and friends. Gertrude does have emotional and even physical scars but she finally learns it won't kill her to accept help and let go. I finished this book with an overwhelming feeling of sadness and anxiousness. Deb Spera does an extraordinary job of bringing the reader into the life of these three women and in myself a compelling need to reach out to them. The prose is outstanding and the way in which the author tells the story makes it impossible to leave the book without vivid pictures in your mind. This was an excellent novel of the dark side, but also the soft inner side, to each one of us. People look for different things in books. One of them is subject matter. Some readers will say that they don't like a book because it is depressing. That is true. But, I think the most important aspect of fiction is the ability of the author to take you where they are. I was with these three women. I lived with them during this storytelling. I felt their pain, helplessness, confusion and love. Spera's book is life as it is. I am disturbed by it, but very glad I read it.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Wonderfully written!
Anonymous 11 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago