The 1920’s may have been “roarin'” for some, but it didn’t take the stock market crash to bring financial despair to Gertrude and her girls. No, she had that thrust upon her much earlier, with the boll weevil devastation of her husband’s cotton crops a year earlier and his drowning himself in alcohol for comfort. Now, all she can do to save her four daughters from abject starvation, is to leave them with others until she comes up with an urgent action plan. As she enacts her plan, and without meaning to, she draws in the support of two other women, Oretta and Annie, who are confronting their own, shared, past. Very quickly, she finds herself slowly enabling them to be strengthened by her evolving strength.
This is a gorgeously written novel that is engaging from the very first words. What is most magnetic are the characters – they are so beautiful and private, vulnerable and proud – they pull you right in. You just wish for the opportunity sit with each one, to drink sweet tea and to talk for hours. Oretta, especially. Oretta has worked for Annie all her life, as has her own mother. She is kind, gentle, compassionate and wise, and has had losses and loves that have shaped her. She is the person who would take in a young, sick child, a perfect stranger, and care for her as her own.
There are so many layers tucked into the pages of this work of historical fiction, which make it so strong. Layers of plot lines, layers of personality traits to each of the characters, even layers of voices. I am in awe at the ability of a writer to incorporate all of this into a novel without it saddling the novel with sagging detail. This one moves quickly, keeps the reader always engaged, and leaves you wanting more time with it.
Although this is a painful story and the details are difficult, I very highly recommend this book – and give it a rare MUST READ!