04. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Classics, Fiction, Melody H

The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton, 318 pages, read by Melody, on 02/03/2012

The Moonflower Vine was a beautiful book.  The opening chapter is about three grown daughters coming home to the Ozarks to visit their elderly folks.  What seems at first blush a nostalgia piece about skinny dipping, peach ice cream, and afternoon picnics delves into each of the family member’s lives as the book progresses.  There are love affairs, secrets, vices, jealousies, and all the small dramas that make up the realities of life.  Would I have loved this book if I were not an Ozark native who has watched the moonflowers open and heard the killdeers cry in the meadows?  I think that I would but that the story has such a personal connection to me and my heritage assuredly endears it to me.  In the foreword the Pulitzer winning author Janet Smiley who included The Moonflower Vine in her Thirteen Ways to Look at a Novel, a study of 100 great novel, places The Moonflower Vine with To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison as the rare great single novel.  I completely agree.  Upon finishing, I wanted to know if Mary Jo ever found love, if Soames got to fly, if Callie and Matthew lived the to see 80, 90, 100. And was saddened that I will never know.   I suppose that is the sign of a truly great novel,  that long after the last word you wonder and worry about the characters as if they were real people who you might meet going down the road, an Ozark gravel road with wild honeysuckle in the ditch.

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