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I had my hopes up, hearing that McCrumb is a great southern writer. Not so much with this attempt. Badly edited, there are entire passages that are identical; so much so that at one point I thought I'd inadvertently skipped backwards. The story, large in scope, with complex characters, here is narrowed down to a single sociopathic viewpoint. The attempt to provide counterpoint with Zeb Vance's voice is not enough. Everyone in this book comes off petty, mean, hateful, and at the end, it just leaves a bad taste in the mouth. The final insult is the reader. She reads the book, but she does not act it. The anti-heroine, Pauline Foster is read in a soft, light sing-song. The inner rage and resentment that fuel her world view and her actions are nowhere to be found. She could only manage one Southern accent, so that when she had to be, say, the rich planter or the doctor, she was reduced to a northern accent to make them sound cultured and intelligent. A Southern book deserves more complexity than that. I might try this book again on the page as the reader just butchered it, but I don't hope for much.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sharon McCrumb is so talented, and I was hoping for some insight into the ballad, but this gave me no more than the song, really. I don't understand the reason for the two narrators. I was originally intrigued by Pauline, but she quickly dissolved into a one dimensional villain. Zebulon Vance provided history of the 1860's, but didn't provide any information or insight. I don't know what his purpose in the story was supposed to be.
We all know that the South lost the Civil War, that rural life is hard in the 19th Century, and that Tom Dooley dies, I wanted a better back story than this.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful