Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"Cold Sassy Tree" by Olive Ann Burns (1984)

If the preacher's wife petticoat showed, the ladies would make the talk last a week. But on July 5, 1906, things took a scandalous turn. That was the day E. Rucker Blakeslee, proprietor of the general store and barely three weeks a widower, eloped with Miss Love Simpson - a woman half his age and, worse yet, a Yankee! On that day, fourteen-year-old Will Tweedy's adventures began and an unimpeachably pious, deliciously irreverent town came to life.

Not since To Kill a Mockingbird has a novel so deftly captured the subtle crosscurrents of small-town Southern life. Olive Ann Burns's classic bestseller brings to vivid life an era that will never exist again, exploring timeless issues of love, death, coming of age, and the ties that bind families and generations.

  • Very well-written book. It took me a while to get accustomed to the dialogue since it's so "southern," but it was a lot of fun and allowed the voice of the characters to develop well.
  • There are just so many surprises and twists in this book that keeps things lively and intriguing - the strange circumstances surrounding Blakeslee's second marriage so soon after his first wife dies, Lightfoot and Will's relationship change, how "Papa" gets his revenge on the grandfather when his wife is upset over an unfulfilled trip to New York, etc. Makes for an amusing read.
  • The grandfather of the family, Blakeslee, is a very interesting character. He is constantly causing turbulence in the waves of this small-town society, whether it's by preaching in his own house or hiring a "mill" boy, and his practicality (which other folks may also call "stinginess") and surprising insight makes you question what you once thought you knew to be right or wrong.
  • I was reading the book with the full intention of not liking Miss Love Simpson... The conservative part of me was also asking, with the other gossipy leaders, "What type of lady would marry a widow only three weeks after his wife's death??" But she has such personality and "sass" that I couldn't help liking her, and even feeling sorry for her whenever the opportunity presented itself.
  • Will Tweedy himself is also a great narrator, in the way he projects his views from what he has just witnessed or the way he interacts with others. I especially enjoyed reading about his interactions with his Aunt Loma or his beloved Lightfoot.
  • All of the characters are just so interesting, and this book is a great novel about growing up.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

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