Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), and several Kindle ebooks.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Songcatcher


I first read The Songcatcher, by Sharyn McCrumb, shortly after it came out in 2001. I liked it.


I recently reread it and loved it. Here’s why:


   In 2014 I became interested in my family genealogy. As I did research, I discovered that I descended from folks who came to America—particularly to Virginia—in its early years. Some came first to Pennsylvania or Maryland; some landed on Virginia’s coast and worked their way westward. McCrumb’s novel chronicles her McCourry ancestors and how they came to the Appalachian region.

 McCrumb uses multiple viewpoints to tell the story. Each ancestor narrates his or her story, and a song that the first one in America heard aboard ship connects their narratives. Plus, a third-person narrator tells the contemporary story of a folksinger searching for a song she heard her older relatives sing long ago. I'm a big fan of first person narrative, and I really like stories told with multiple narrators.

   McCrumb captures the melody of Appalachian dialect without resorting to misspellings, dropping of gs in -ing endings, etc. She uses phrasing that early settlers would use. Diction and syntax trump misspellings. This makes the book so much more readable than if it were bogged down in phonetic renditions of what the speech might have sounded like.

    There is a strong sense of place throughout the novel. Any good Appalachian novel should have a strong sense of place. Plus, the characters are interesting and well-rounded and believable.


You can read online the reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Historical Novels Review.

The book is available on Amazon from various resellers (hardcover and paperback). It became an ebook in March 2015.


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