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The Tilted World

The Tilted World

4.3 18
by Tom Franklin

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Set against the backdrop of the historic flooding of the Mississippi River, The Tilted World is an extraordinary tale of murder and moonshine, sandbagging and saboteurs, and a man and a woman who find unexpected love, from Tom Franklin, the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, and award-winning


Set against the backdrop of the historic flooding of the Mississippi River, The Tilted World is an extraordinary tale of murder and moonshine, sandbagging and saboteurs, and a man and a woman who find unexpected love, from Tom Franklin, the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, and award-winning poet Beth Ann Fennelly

The year is 1927. As rains swell the Mississippi, the mighty river threatens to burst its banks and engulf everything in its path, including federal revenue agent Ted Ingersoll and his partner, Ham Johnson. Arriving in the tiny hamlet of Hobnob, Mississippi, to investigate the disappearance of two fellow agents who'd been on the trail of a local bootlegger, they are astonished to find a baby boy abandoned in the middle of a crime scene.

Ingersoll, an orphan raised by nuns, is determined to find the infant a home, and his search leads him to Dixie Clay Holliver. A strong woman married too young to a philandering charmer, Dixie Clay has lost a child to illness and is powerless to resist this second chance at motherhood. From the moment they meet, Ingersoll and Dixie Clay are drawn to each other. He has no idea that she's the best bootlegger in the county and may be connected to the agents' disappearance. And while he seems kind and gentle, Dixie Clay knows full well that he is an enemy who can never be trusted.

When Ingersoll learns that a saboteur might be among them, planning a catastrophe along the river that would wreak havoc in Hobnob, he knows that he and Dixie Clay will face challenges and choices that they will be fortunate to survive. Written with extraordinary insight and tenderness, The Tilted World is that rarest of creations, a story of seemingly ordinary people who find hope and deliverance where they least expect it—in each other.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Franklin (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter) is enamored of the people and history of the South. Poet Fennelly (Great with Child) finds inspiration in the secret anxieties and joys of parenthood. Together, the husband-and-wife team created Dixie Clay, a young woman who is married to bootlegger Jesse and struggling to find closure after the loss of her child. Dixie resides in the town of Hobnob, MS, a town buttressed from massive flooding by a straining levee. The year is 1927, when two prohibition agents mysteriously disappear from the town and federal agents Ingersoll and Ham are sent to investigate. Disguised as engineers, the agents work undercover to integrate themselves into the underbelly of Hobnob and quickly identify Dixie's husband as the main suspect. While Ham pursues Jesse through the law, Ingersoll pursues Dixie romantically. As the water pours through the levee, all four find themselves searching for new beginnings. VERDICT A pleasurable work of historical fiction rife with religious symbolism and romance. [See Prepub Alert, 4/22/13.]—Joshua Finnell, Denison Univ. Lib., Granville, OH
Publishers Weekly
Rough South writer Franklin (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter) and the poet and nonfiction writer Fennelly (Great with Child), distill in this prohibition-era tale of bootleggers and revenuers an atmospheric draught of prose that is at once poetic and gritty. It’s 1927 Mississippi, and Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover has sent two unbribable federal revenue agents, Ted Ingersoll and Ham Johnson, into the maw of the Great Flood to investigate the disappearance of two other “prohis” from Hobnob Landing. On the way, Ingersoll and Ham find a baby, the lone survivor of a country-store looting gone bad. Ingersoll, an orphan himself, gives the boy to bootlegger Dixie Clay, a 22-year-old bereft of her own child. Along with her violent husband Jesse Holliver, Dixie might have been the last person to see the missing revenuers alive. Love for Dixie rises in Ingersoll’s heart like the waters on the levee, and he knows that “to fix things... would require broken vows and broken laws, blood, desertion, and money.” There’s a bit of corn in this mash, but fans of Fennelly will savor her depictions of a mother’s ferocious love, and Franklin’s following will shine to the violent rendering of a nearly forgotten time and ethos. (Oct.)
Dennis Lehane
“A new novel from Tom Franklin is always a reason to get excited, but a novel from Franklin and Fennelly is just cause to throw a block party.”
Eowyn Ivey
The Tilted World is everything I hold dear in a novel—a raucous, page-turning story with grit, utterly steeped in the land and people, and told in such poetic language that I kept forcing myself to slow down so I could enjoy the writing.”
Garden & Gun magazine
“Thriller stories are easy to come by—as are small lyrical gems. The two come together in The Tilted World. . . . You will experience a sprawling story of conflict, disorder, shame, and horror that is umbrellaed by an even bigger story—one of love.”
Seattle Times
“A swift, soulful mix of love story and crime saga . . . evocative characters and unpretentious but shapely prose . . . The Tilted World is literary crime fiction of the highest order.”
Garden & Gun
“Thriller stories are easy to come by—as are small lyrical gems. The two come together in The Tilted World. . . . You will experience a sprawling story of conflict, disorder, shame, and horror that is umbrellaed by an even bigger story—one of love.”
Kirkus Reviews
The world that's tilting refers to the Mississippi Delta in April 1927, site of one of the greatest natural catastrophes in American history. Although the Great Flood of 1927 provides the background for the narrative, Franklin and Fennelly focus on an unusual, and perhaps implausible, love story. Revenuers Ham Johnson and Ted Ingersoll are sent to Mississippi not only to track down the makers of some of the finest moonshine in the South, but also to solve the mystery of who was responsible for the recent deaths of two other revenuers. Along the way, they find an orphaned baby, and they don't quite know what to do with this unforeseen state of affairs, but Ted had been an orphan himself and so takes pity on the newborn. When he asks around the town of Hobnob Landing, he finds out about Dixie Clay Holliver, a young mother who had recently lost a child to scarlet fever, so he shows up to give her the orphaned infant, whom she names Willy. It turns out Dixie Clay is married to one of the biggest moonshiners in the state, the egregious Jesse Holliver, a womanizing, self-centered and viciously ambitious man. Because Dixie Clay has shown great business acumen, she's taken over her husband's moonshining operation, as Jesse has other irons in the fire. A romance develops between Ted and Dixie Clay, abetted in part by Jesse's abusiveness toward his wife and his indifference to the child. Jesse begins to prepare for a new life, one that involves his blowing up a levee with dynamite and drowning the town, the townspeople, Ted, and even his wife and child. Originally conceived as a short story, the book shows signs of attenuation in its expansion to novel length.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author

Tom Franklin is the New York Times bestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Crime Writers' Association's Gold Dagger Award. His previous works include Poachers, Hell at the Breech, and Smonk. He teaches in the University of Mississippi's MFA program.

Beth Ann Fennelly has published three volumes of poetry and a work of nonfiction, Great with Child. She directs the University of Mississippi's MFA program.

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The Tilted World 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I knew nothing about the Great Flood of Mississippi in 1927 until I read this amazing story. Tilted World is a fiction novel that is so rich with detail from that time period I really felt like I learned about a piece of American history in a region previously unknown to me. This book has everything--mystery, suspense, bootleggers, corrupt cops, revenue agents (admittedly I never heard that term before this book), flappers, murder, and a great disaster. I just finished the book the other day, but the characters are still in my head and I find myself thinking of them and what their future will hold. I haven't read anything from Tom Franklin before but I might pick up his earlier book Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. I also adore that this story was written by a husband and wife team. Very sweet. I highly recommend this book to all lovers of historical fiction. And it even reminded me a bit of the HBO show Boardwalk Empire. I think Titled World would appeal to both men and women.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Tilted World by Franklin, Tom (William Morrow) Riveting historical drama. Bootleggers, revenuers, massive flood, forbidden love and a baby make for a rich page-turning can't stop reading story. Tom Franklin (with Beth Ann Fennelly) once again brings us to the deep south with all the characters you would expect and more. This book/story played out like an action packed movie, the descriptions and feel were picture perfect. I loved Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, now I am going to spread word of The Tilted World to everyone that appreciates the art of storytelling and the written word. Cannot wait until the release so I can spread the joy of one of my newly discovered favorite writers that will not disappoint.        
lynnski0723 More than 1 year ago
I definitely recommend this one. It's a love story but not a romance novel or "chick-lit". There's more to it than that. And it keeps a good pace throughout the whole book - it always kept me coming back.
SilversReviews More than 1 year ago
The Mississippi River was home to Dixie Clay after she married her husband, Jesse. at the ripe old age of sixteen. She really didn't know anything about what he did for a living, and she certainly didn't know he was a bootlegger. THE TILTED WORLD is set in Mississippi during the flooding in the 1920's and has a very eccentric set of characters. There are bootleggers, revenuers trying to catch the bootleggers, women who are supporting their bootlegging husbands, and a baby who along with Dixie Clay are two of the main characters, and the characters that carry the storyline. Dixie Clay and the baby will warm your heart, and Jesse will make you want to set him straight for how he treats Dixie Clay. Ingersoll and Ham are the revenuers who have out-of-the ordinary backgrounds...especially Ingersoll. Ingersoll’s background tells his story in flashbacks. His background made him the “sweet” man Dixie Clay became ‘sweet” on. Franklin and Fennelly are master storytellers, and their detail is incredible. You will easily feel the river rising, the steels bubbling, the energy in the speakeasies, and the life that was lead in Mississippi at this time. The writing is smooth and easy and will pull you in just as the river does as the story unfolds. The book is definitely character driven and quite easy to become involved with the characters whether they are upstanding or not. There actually aren't too many upstanding characters, but I really enjoyed THE TILTED WORLD once it got on its way. I didn't know what to expect at first, but THE TILTED WORLD is quite appealing because of the characters and the amazing writing. You will also find out the meaning of the title. The ending will have you on the edge of your seat, but it will also have you smiling. 4/5 This book was given to me free of charge by the publisher and without compensation in return for an honest review
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This could be made into an awesome movie.
Cranky1 More than 1 year ago
I found this to be a very good book. Yes it was a love story but not a romance. It also taught me about a time in America I knew nothing about. I also loved Crooked letter Crooked lettee by him. I think he is a great author and recommend his books.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings If you have followed this blog for some time then you know I like historical fiction.  The reason I like it is because I feel like I am learning, but without the horrible symbolism talks or pop quizzes!  I was excited to read that this book was based on a historical event that doesn't get much buzz - a flood in Mississippi in 1927. Dixie Clay married a man that she thought sold fur and would be the husband and father that she always dreamed of; instead he became a bootlegger and so did she.  It is Prohibition time and the whiskey industry is very underground.  At the same time in this small town in Mississippi they have seen gobs of rain and their levees are straining under the pressure.  Both Dixie Clay and a revenuer tell the story - it was nice to get both sides of the business and the story from one who has been in the town for a while and from a visitor.  
Twink More than 1 year ago
Oh, where to start.....I absolutely loved The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly! I literally started the book on a Sunday morning and feverishly read until I turned the last page the same night. Franklin and Fennelly have set their book in 1927 Mississippi - at the time of one of the greatest natural disasters ever to occur in the US. The flood flattened 'almost a million homes, drowning twenty-seven thousand square miles and the water remained for four months. Over 330,000 people were rescued from trees, roofs, and levees." Dixie Clay Holliver lives along the Mississippi at a bend in the river called Hobnob. Dixie's life isn't quite what she imagined it would be when she married Jesse. Turns out that Jesse is a moonshiner. The loss of her infant son has only added to her grief at the direction her life has taken. But, Dixie does the cooking now - she's better at it than Jesse. Teddy Ingersoll is a revenuer. In this time of prohibition, Teddy and his partner Ham are always on the move. On their way to Hobnob to investigate the disappearance of two other agents, they come across the lone survivor of a shoot out - an infant boy. Inexplicably, Ingersoll is determined to find a home for the child. When they arrive in Hobnob, Dixie Clay is mentioned as woman who might take in an orphan. And with that, Dixie and Ingersoll's lives and fates are crossed. The Tilted World is such a strong novel is every sense of the world. The characters are brilliant. I was so captured by Dixie Clay - her strength, fortitude and abilities belie the hurt beneath her tough exterior. Ingersoll is much the same, with that same strength and fortitude, but no real purpose or direction in his heart. The setting is just as much of a character in the book as Dixie and Ingersoll. Franklin and Fennelly have done a phenomenal job in bringing time and place to the page. The detailed descriptions of the town, the woods and most of all, the water created vivid mental images for this reader. Dual narratives are used in The Tilted World to good effect, allowing the reader to be privy to the thoughts of both protagonists. The Tilted World exemplifies storytelling at it's finest. I was completely caught up in Franklin and Fennelly's tale. I knew what I wanted to happen, I was afraid of what might happen and I couldn't read fast enough to see what did happen. The Tilted World is absolutely recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The background of the flood and the moon shining was interesting since I was born in MS and have seen pictures of all that water!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So well written. Not many books take place in the 1920's, so interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very nice story. I loved the characters and the history of the mississippi flood.
Delphimo More than 1 year ago
The year is 1927, and mid-southern states are about to be flooded.  This disaster pushed Hubert Hoover into the White House, and is a disaster very little remembered.  I had never heard about this massive flooding, and was amazed by the huge loss of people and buildings.  This is a fictional account of that flooding and a story into the life and times of moon shiners.  Again, I learned the reason behind the label of moon shiner and a brief lesson in moon shining.  Any book that teaches me something new, but still provides an interesting story is a book worth reading.  The writing flows nicely, but the story falls apart at the end.  The massive waters surge through towns and farms, and the story just ebbs away.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book on the 2.99 and under. It was a good read.
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&starf Name &star Striking Von Zandt &starf<br>&star Age &starf f<_>uck off &star<br>&starf Gender &star &male tom &starf<br>&star Clan &starf BloodClan//Klan Khaos &star<br>&starf Past Clans &star RogueClan, RevengeClan, The Elite, AshClan, SunClan &starf<br>&star My Deputy &starf Thundercloud &there4 &star<br>&starf Rank &star leader/assassin/forcemater &starf<p>&clubs Appearance &spades jet black, very strong and large for his relatively young age, with green eyes. He has scars on his flank and stomach from training, his chest and neck [Thistlefang/Ivy], corner of his eye [Difinity], et his nose [Fox]. He wears a black silk collar full of dog teeth. &clubs<p>&starf Kin &star brothers~*Fallenangel*,*Sneakshadow* (*Brackenergy*, *Rainsilver*, Ashenpaw, Arcticpaw), *Vapourmask/Envy* (!Flame!) sisters~*;Myntlight;* (*Ripplepond*, *Lightshadow*, *Vapoursecret*), *Prismshield* (*Cypress*, *Venato*, *Zephyr*) parents~*Sneakshadow*//?Fearfang? grandparents~*Smallmouth*/*Greypebble* aunt~*Waterripple* cousins~*Celestialangel*, *Mysticsoul*, *Angellife*, *Starrylight*, *Brambleclaw*, *Cloverleaf*, *Rowanwing* half-aunts~*Blueripple*, *Whitefoot* half-cousins~*Shadowheart* (Snowrose, Hailclouds, Yarrowfire, Brightvision, Dewscale), *Stripethorn* (*Reddawn*), Silverstreak, Skymoon, Everwind, *Swirlingwaters*, Duskclaw, Talonblaze, Forestclaw, *Opalsong*, Winterfall, !Mistystorm!, !Moonlightpelt!, *Snowmound*, Darkjay, Lionhowl &starf<br>&star Kits &starf Myntlight~*Walkinggrenade*, *Sorrelpower*, *Vixensmoke*, *Frostedend*, *Splashrapture*, *Quailtiger*, *Sunsetkiss* Mischief~*Steelrevenge*, *Cranestrike* Aspen~Owlcry, *Lightbeam*, Darkskull Heatfang~*Phantomkit*, *Bountykit*, *Silverkit*, *Crowkit* Bounty~Fire, *Emberclaw*, *Sparkkit*, *Silver(y)kit*, *Sleetshard*, Wind, *Despotickit*, *Strikekit* Night~*Sweetkit*, *Vinekit*, *Stealkit*, *Quailkit* Prismshield~Dreamlessbound, Maylay, Koiwind, Nightingale, Azure unknown~Aspenrage adopted~*Deathkit*, *Sleetkit*, *Blossomkit* Aspenrage~*Willow*, *Winterkit*, *Enderkit*, *Safarikit*, *Neonkit*, *Glowkit*, *Snowkit*, *Amberkit*, *Metalfeather*, *Stolen*, *Stolenkit*, *Dragonkit*, *Coalkit* Soulcatcher~*Traitor*, *Vengance* Fox~*Tyranno*, *Eagle*, *Vipor*, *Sleek*, *Scavenger*, *Blue* Ivy~Avalanche, two others &star<br>&starf Crushes &star *Difinity, Ivy, Panther, Steel Blue [Xena] &starf<br>&star Mate &starf complicated... &star<p>&clubs Personality &spades hates authority and kits, rude and aggressive, abusive, strict, intelligent &clubs<br>&spades History &clubs 'sneakshadow' all results &spades<br>&clubs Themesong &spades Get up by Korn &clubs<br>&spades Friends/Heroes &clubs Toxin*, Broken/Difinity &spades<br>&clubs Likes &spades above, Greek, riddles &clubs<br>&spades Dislikes &clubs BC, regular Clans, weaklings, family, kits, Jaggedstar, Thistlefang &spades<br>&clubs Enemies &spades everyone not listed above &clubs<br>&spades Siggie &clubs &sect&tau&real&iota&zhcy&iota&eta<_>g &#12458 &middot &spades<>&clubs Powers &spades can inflict pain from afar and invade one's mind and thoughts, heightened senses, telepathy &clubs<p>&starf Other &star find me and ask. This bio will be updated monthlyish at following results &starf