Friday, December 4, 2009
The New York Times Book Review quoted on the back cover says "Haunting and Beautiful....an evocative and gracious novel."
It is truly stunning. Gibbons gives us the story of three generations of women living together in semi-rural North Carolina. The time line goes from just before the Great Depression until the middle of WWII. There are three women: Charlie Kate - the grandmother and 'healing woman'; Sophia -her stubborn daughter who reluctantly assists her mother, and Margaret, the shy, book-loving granddaughter who adores Charlie Kate and tries to learn as much as she can from her. Each brings a unique persona to the whole. Their lives are intertwined, but each very different. The respect and love they have for each other sometimes erupts into 'differences,' but together they are able to muddle through abandonment by husbands, malpractice on the part of doctors, storms, ignorance, and the war.
Margaret could so easily have been scarred by all of the tragedies she witnesses both in her grandmother's patients,and in the romantic relationships of her grandparents and parents. Instead, she emerges unscarred and ready to carry on the legacy of this unusual, loving family.
I'm certainly going to check out Kaye Gibbons' other books. This was such an extraordinary read. If her others are half as well written as this, with characters that have even half the charm, they will still be well worth reading.