Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My First Book Review! A Parchment of Leaves by Silas House

I have only recently begun reading again.  Babies, works, and life situations for the past few years only permitted me to read one or two books a year.  Now that I have been given the opportunity to work from home, and my boys have grown up some, I am able to READ!!  

I come from the tribe that believes audiobooks count as reading.  Now, I do have a hands-on book handy when I'm out and about, but as I unpack and cook and clean and drive and live, I listen to books! 




The tricky part about audiobooks is finding ones that are well narrated.  So, without further chatter, A Parchment of Leaves!  by Silas House.  What a great name, Silas.  Makes me wonder if he was born with it, or a nom de plume.  Either way, it is great.

This book turned out not to be at all what I expected.  I was drawn to it because I enjoy reading about customs and cultures.  When I read that the main character, Vine, was a Cherokee woman leaving her family to marry a white man, I expected to learn more about how a traditional Cherokee woman would navigate in a new culture.  




Here's the Goodreads synopsis of the book:

"So it is that Vine, Cherokee-born and raised in the early 1900s, trains her eye on a young white man, forsaking her family and their homeland to settle in with Saul's people: his smart-as-a-whip, slow-to-love mother, Esme; his brother Aaron, a gifted banjo player, hot tempered and unpredictable; and Aaron's flightly and chattery Melungeon wife, Aidia." It's a delicate negotiation into this new family and culture, one that Vine's mother had predicted would not go smoothly. But it's worse than she could have imagined. Vine is viewed as an outsider by the townspeople. Aaron, she slowly realizes, is strangely fixated on her. But what is at first difficult becomes a test of her spirit. And in the violent turn of events that ensues, she learns what it means to forgive others and, most important, how to forgive herself. 



And Amazon:

It is the early 1900s in rural Kentucky, and young Saul Sullivan is heading up to Redbud Camp to look for work. He is wary but unafraid of the Cherokee girl there whose beauty is said to cause the death of all men who see her. But the minute Saul lays eyes on Vine, he knows she is meant to be his wife. Vine’s mother disapproves of the mixed marriage; Saul’s mother, Esme, has always been ill at ease around the Cherokee people. But once Vine walks into God’s Creek, Saul’s mother and brother Aaron take to her immediately. It quickly becomes clear to Vine, though, that Aaron is obsessed with her. And when Saul leaves God’s Creek for a year to work in another county, the wife he leaves behind will never be the same again. The violence that lies ahead for Vine, will not only test her spirit, but also her ability to forgive—both others and herself. 

While these are apt summaries, I found so many more gems than only these.

For me, this story shared the lives and experiences of 4 women, all strong.  They showed how we can be brave and strong and noble in our own ways.  They all lived and worked side by side and  managed the stresses in their lives the best way they knew how.  All doing what they believed to be the right thing, the good thing.





I loved how throughout the story details of life were woven in.  They tended and loved their gardens and little homes.  They cooked and cleaned and sewed curtains and clothes.  When the men were gone, all the women on the mountain got together for hog killing time.  They quilted and put food up.  They walked in the woods and played with their children, and for the majority of them, this made life complete.  They didn't owe money to anyone. They used what they needed and shared with their friends and neighbors.  Everyone knew everything (almost) about everyone.  Your honor was very important in such a tight knit community.
These details made this book perfection for me.  I didn't want it to end.  I wanted to move into Esme's little house and start sweeping the porch and making it my own.  




I think it spoke to me on such a deep level.  I crave that kind of community.  Women who share my interests in gardening, canning, making for my family...Pouring my heart and soul and love into the everyday.  

I know there are other women out there who crave this.  We must find some way to band together to form our own circles of support.  


Okay....Book review and craving rant over.  I feel cleansed!

Now for the fun part!  I'm going to cast the main characters of the book.




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