Excerpt from The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Resurrection of Joan Ashby

by Cherise Wolas

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas X
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2017, 544 pages
    May 1, 2018, 544 pages

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The Resurrection of Joan Ashby

A fair came to Rhome the first weekend of August, setting up in a huge field where the hay had been sickle-mowed, leaving behind a flat, golden carpet. The field was ten miles past the Mannings' neighborhood, now called Peachtree by almost everyone. It was hot and sunny, the cloudless sky a rich blue. All of Rhome seemed to have turned out, as well as a good part of the populations of the towns on either side of it, for the fair was bustling when Joan and Martin and the boys arrived. White and beige tents dotted the landscape and booths had been set up and were doing a brisk business selling local produce, home-made jams and preserves, cheeses made from cows and goats and sheep from the nearby farms, wine bottled from Rappahannock County and Shenandoah Valley grapes. For the kids, there were Italian ices and sno-cones to lick, cotton candy to pull apart, and rides—a Ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, a small roller coaster, a riding ring where old horses were taking the youngest for slow rides, round and round. The aroma of barbecue was in the air.

Joan assessed the crowd, lighting upon the most interesting: young men turning white T-shirts into art, pinching the material tight and rubber-banding each section until they looked like porcupines being dipped into huge steaming vats of colored dyes; the young woman with a bird's nest of purple hair sitting at a potter's wheel, slamming down hunks of clay, her hands moving nearly as fast as the wheel, cups, vases, plates, bowls, trays, appearing like magic; the elderly man in a worn blue linen suit, a jaunty straw boater on his head, a smeared palette tight in his hand, painting a mammoth canvas of people on a beach staring out at an ocean where a sailboat bobbed in the distance, though he himself was standing in a mowed field; the handsome young man at an old-fashioned school desk, a manual typewriter in front of him, a stack of paper to the side. He had long pony-tailed hair and round wire glasses perched on the bridge of his nose, and his sign read: $5 GET YOUR OWN PERSONAL SHORT STORY. Joan absorbed these people and something clicked inside of her.

Daniel brought her back, tugging at her hand, saying, "I want to go exploring. I'll take Eric with me, but I've got so much to see and you and Daddy are walking too slow." He was a serious, responsible boy.

"He'll pull you every which way," Joan warned Daniel, wanting him to take Eric, thinking a good mother would let her older son run free, not obligate him to watch over his younger brother.

Martin touched her shoulder. "Let them go," he said, and she wondered why he would think she wouldn't.

Martin handed Daniel ten single dollar bills. "For whatever you guys want," he said. "Meet us at five at the entrance, okay? There's a lot of people here and it would be tough to have to search for you."

Daniel held up his wrist, showed his father his watch, the birthday present he had chosen for himself last year. He was obsessed with time lately: how much time had elapsed between one event and another, how much time had gone by since the beginning of the world, since he had written his last Henry story, since he had given Joan a story to read, since he began reading the latest big book he was reading, how little time was left before he was late to a friend's house, before he started fifth grade, before his tenth birthday in late December, before he was all grown up.

On the way home, the boys bounced off the backseat, chattering about the rides they had ridden, everything they had eaten, the new tie-dye T-shirts they were wearing, the clay vase painted yellow and white that Joan was holding in her lap, bought from the girl with the bird's-nest hair. Bounding into the house, the boys said they were full, they did not want dinner, and did not argue when Joan said, "Baths! Alone or together, whatever you want, but you both need to wash your hair." Wonderfully worn out, they were asleep long before their usual, well-guarded bedtimes.

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Excerpted from The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas. Copyright © 2017 by Cherise Wolas. Excerpted by permission of Flatiron Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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