This book should become required reading alongside Morrison and Fitzgerald and Steinbeck. Bloodroot holds all the power and muscle of a masterwork that will endure: smooth and assured prose, complex and captivating characters, and a story to support those characters drawn out and spun so carefully to create a perfect slow-building plot that reaches a crescendo as we follow the diverse and subtly intertwined narratives of six characters. The story is set in the Smoky Mountains and it has such a distinctly Appalachian feel that it made me homesick for southern Ohio. A few of the characters speak in that distinct, colloquial accent I remember from my childhood, an accent I used to refer to as “lazy southern” but recognize now, thanks to Amy Greene, as a unique and lovely regional dialect (people “worsh” their clothes instead of wash, for example). I spent my time reading this book while listening to CDs by a musician named Robin Bullock who plays guitar and lute and dulcimer in a mix of celtic and bluegrass that nicely coincides with music local to this story. The axis on which the novel spins is Myra, granddaughter of mountain witches and healers, who loves too hard, keeps secrets, and eventually goes mad. It is also the story of her grandmother, her husband, and her children. Running throughout the story is the menacing symbolism and imagery of a curse, a horse who cannot be tamed, and a bloodred stone set in a wedding ring. As with any deeply-felt novel of passion and tragedy, there is an air of sadness to the novel, but it is woven throughout with threads of happiness, comfort, and hope, so that even when the characters despair the reader can find herself uplifted with them by sudden, bright joy. Bloodroot is one of the best novels I have ever read.

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One response to “Bloodroot

  1. I live in southern Ohio and the feeling and the sounds of Appalachia are so much a part of my everyday life that I neglect their beauty and their power. I wonder if I will miss them when I leave this place.

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