Named for a flower whose blood-red sap possesses the power both to heal and poison, Bloodroot is a stunning fiction debut about the legaciesof magic and madness, faith and secrets, passion and lossthat haunt one family across the generations, from the Great Depression to today.
The novel is told in a kaleidoscope of seamlessly woven voices and centers around an incendiary romance that consumes everyone in its path: Myra Lamb, a wild young girl with mysterious, haint blue eyes who grows up on remote Bloodroot Mountain; her grandmother Byrdie Lamb, who protects Myra fiercely and passes down the touch that bewitches people and animals alike; the neighbor boy who longs for Myra yet is destined never to have her; the twin children Myra is forced to abandon but who never forget their mothers deep love; and John Odom, the man who tries to tame Myra and meets with shocking, violent disaster. Against the backdrop of a beautiful but often unforgiving country, these lives come togetheronly to be torn apartas a dark, riveting mystery unfolds.
With grace and unflinching verisimilitude, Amy Greene brings her native Appalachiaand the faith and fury of its peopleto rich and vivid life. Here is a spellbinding tour de force that announces a dazzlingly fresh, natural-born storyteller in our midst.
Bloodroot presents a range of voices by weaving together narratives from Myra Lamb's family. Author Amy Greene prevents the narratives from sprawling like kudzu by organizing them into paired sections, allowing characters to alternate speaking in groups of two. The result is a dynamic, layered effect that allows the reader to sink progressively deeper into the Lamb family, as opposed to the traditional approach of going forward through a linear plot progression... While stylistic parallels to Wordsworth's
daffodils are evident throughout the novel, Greene's characters function with
independence and resolution that bring the American transcendentalists - Emerson,
Thoreau - more readily to mind. Bloodroot works at a slower, heavier pace
than Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes or Rebecca Wells' Divine Secrets
of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, and readers that enjoyed Charles Frazier's Cold
Mountain will find pleasure in Bloodroot's pages. (Reviewed by Elizabeth Whitmore Funk).
Greene does a masterful job of crafting a palpable setting... But in the end, it’s Greene’s characters we want more of. And since we don’t get to spend enough time with any one of them - a hazard of having six voices narrating over the course of about 50 years - we can never fully realize them as whole. Still, she offers a fascinating and authentic look at a rural world full of love and life, dreams and disappointment.
IndieNext Pick - Janel Feierabend, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
This multi-generational story is a must-read for those who wish to expand their horizons, experience a part of our country often ignored, and face challenges head-on through honest and sparse prose. I'm still reeling.
Though Greene has a flair for physical description, indistinct characters and frequent shifts in point of view throughout the novel lead to confusion, lessening the impact of the story's dramatic potential. Predictable plotlines detract from the enjoyment as well.
Pitch-perfect voices tell a story loaded with lyric suffering and redemption-bound to be a huge hit.
Starred Review. With a style as elegant as southern novelist Lee Smith's and a story as affecting as The Color Purple, this debut offers stirring testimony to the resilience of the human spirit.
Marie du Vaure, Vroman's Bookstore (in Publishers Weekly's 'Galley Talk')
Greene's stirring work needs to be in everyone's hands.
Some novels are so powerful, so magical in their sweep and voice, that they leave you feeling drugged.... Bloodroot, set in the bone-poor hollows of the eastern Tennessee mountains, is such a book.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Eileen Elkinson Exceptional debut, can't wait for more books This is a sensitively written novel, an often tragic yet poignant depiction of life in the Appalachian mountains. Specifically Bloodroot Mountain, named after the bloodroot flower that gave Myra Lamb her name. A flower that contains the ability to... Read More
Rated of 5
by CarolK A Stunning Debut Bloodroot is a gut wrenching, raw, tense, exquisite debut. Bloodroot has been compared to The Color Purple or the Glass Castle. For me, it is more like She Walks These Hills by Sharyn McCrumb. It is the kind of... Read More
Rated of 5
by mainlinebooker Great voices There has been criticism that the shifting voices in chapters leads to confusion, but I did not feel this way at all. The voices were incredibly authentic, and although the pace was slower in the beginning the increasing tension continued to build.... Read More
Characters in Bloodroot rely on William
Wordsworth's poetry as a source of comfort and inspiration, but echoes of
his literary philosophy and poetic interests can also be found in the
pages of Amy Greene's novel.
Just as Bloodroot relies on memory to tell its stories, much of Wordsworth's poetry focuses on capturing moments of memory and recollection. He developed a philosophy of "two consciousnesses": himself in the present and himself in the past, and a lot of his poetry sought to identify the discrepancy between these two. Whereas Marcel Proust, in his exhausting account, In Search of Lost Time, pursues the depth of memory through the taste of his madeleine cookie, Wordsworth's poetry explores the disjuncture between what is now and what was then.
Memory aside, Wordsworth is most famous for his depiction of daffodils in "I
Wandered as Lonely as a Cloud." Throughout the...
In Burning Bright, Pen/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Serena, Ron Rash, captures the eerie beauty and stark violence of Appalachia through the lives of unforgettable characters. With this masterful collection of stories that span the Civil War to the present day, Rash, a supremely talented...
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Writer hired for fourth Girl with the Dragon Tattoo book(Dec 18 2013) The Swedish publisher of the late Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, has hired David Lagercrantz write a fourth novel which is...