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
• 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.
The book is available on Amazon from various resellers
(hardcover and paperback). It became an ebook in March 2015.
Labels: book review, cats