An eloquent and moving novel of the Appalachian South from one of her most promising new writers.
House offers a poignant, evocative look at the turmoil that plagues a rural Kentucky family during WWI in his solid second novel, which begins when Saul Sullivan takes a shine to a mysterious, beautiful Cherokee woman named Vine. Courtship quickly leads to marriage and a newborn girl named Birdie, but trouble surfaces when Saul's younger brother, Aaron, an unfocused dreamer who longs for a more fulfilling life than his country existence as a laborer, also becomes attracted to Vine. Aaron's opportunity to express his longings comes when Saul leaves to work at a logging camp, hoping to provide some luxuries for his family while supporting the war effort. Vine spurns Aaron's initial advances and manages to drive him away, but the younger brother returns with a young mixed-race bride from East Tennessee who looks exactly like Vine, and soon he is drinking heavily and exercising his formidable temper on his newly pregnant wife. Saul returns briefly to try to straighten out his brother but, when he departs, Aaron turns his attentions on Vine again, who shoots Aaron after he rapes her and goes after Birdie, then buries the body on top of a mountain near the family homestead. A slightly more original story line would have made this an exceptional novel, but House's lovely storytelling, graceful prose, strong characters and his feel for Southern rural life distinguish it. Agent, ICM. (Oct. 18) Forecast: Solid local sales are the bedrock on which this novel's success will rest, but strong reviews, a 15-city author tour and House's NPR connection (he is a frequent contributor) are certain to broaden House's audience. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
In 1917 rural Kentucky, a young Cherokee woman named Vine, rumored to cast spells on unsuspecting men, falls in love with local Irishman Saul Sullivan, whom she eventually marries. This second novel by Appalachian writer House (Clay's Quilt) tells the story of Vine and Saul's tender relationship and the prejudice they face and eventually overcome. While Vine was not raised according to Cherokee customs, she is still aware of being seen as an outsider when she leaves her Cherokee community to be with her husband. People are drawn to her gentle and generous personality, however, and soon she forms enduring friendships with her hard-working mother-in-law, Esme, and feisty and independent midwife Serena. When World War I erupts and Saul temporarily takes a better-paying job far from home, Vine finds herself trying to ward off the unwanted advances of Saul's restless younger brother, Aaron, who declares his own love for Vine. A deep respect for the natural world and the enduring spirit of the human heart are what make this book worth reading and remembering. Recommended for all fiction collections.-Maureen Neville, Trenton P.L., NJ Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Breathtaking both for its beauty and its pain, House's second (after Clay's Quilt, 2001) tells a finely nuanced tale of a Kentucky mountain family in the tumultuous WWI era, as the taking of a Cherokee bride unleashes passions that create life and destroy it. Vine seems a vision to young Saul when he first sees her as he and his brother Aaron ride by her house on horseback, but she quickly proves real, giving emergency treatment when Aaron is bitten by a copperhead. The feelings between Saul and Vine being mutual, their courtship is brief despite her mother's misgivings, and she moves from all-Cherokee Redbud Camp to all-white God's Creek, where Saul and Aaron live with their mother Esme. For a time all is well: the couple build their own house, Vine gives birth to daughter Birdie and becomes a beloved daughter to Esme. But work pressures increase for Saul, a logging foreman, as the clouds of war gather, and he must go away to distant mountains from which he can rarely get time off to travel home. In his absence, Aaron moves from brazenly staring at Vine to making an unwelcome advance. Rebuffed, he disappears, much to his doting mother's dismay. When he returns a few months later with a pregnant bride of his own, however, Esme is not much relieved, as Aaron beats his wife, drinks, disappears for days at a time, and still lusts after Vine. His attempt to rape her in front of Birdie is the point of no return: Vine kills him in self-defense but keeps it a secret, watching in agony as Aaron's "disappearance" eats away at Esme and at Aaron's wife. Finally, she'll see her secret come between her and Saul when the war ends and he returns home for good. From the raptures of Appalachian Spring tothe many, complicated facets of women's lives in that time and place: a superb combination of wonder and suffering. Author tour
“A beautiful, heartbreaking novel, so vividly imagined and told that it stays with you, powerfully, long after you’ve read it. . . . Silas House writes as if the whole history of his place and people resides within his heart.”
National Book Award Finalist
Winner of the Award for Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers
“A SEAMLESS WORK OF FICTION, entrancing in the manner of a vivid dream . . . The novel is steeped in details of place—the sounds, smells, and quality of light in House’s native Kentucky.”
“An eloquent and moving novel of the Appalachian South from one of her most promising new writers.”
Author of The Songcatcher
“Breathtaking for both its beauty and its pain . . . A superb combination of wonder and suffering.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“One of the truest and most exciting new voices in American fiction.”
Author of Gap Creek