rating: 5 of 5 stars
After 20 years of obscurity, The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carelton, was re-issued recently after author Jane Smiley cited it as one of 100 great novels in her book, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Novel.
Why this book ceased to hold the interest of readers is a mystery. I loved this book. It was reminiscent of Cold Sassy Tree or To Kill a Mockingbird, with its rural setting and cast of familial characters. The tale of the Soames family spans 60 years beginning at the turn of the 20th century. They suffer thru trials, the Depression, death, lies and secrets. They also celebrate life, forgiveness and their love for one another.
Matthew Soames, an educator in small town Missouri, his wife Callie, daughters Jessica, Leonie, Mathy and Mary Jo, live a bucolic life divided between their home “in-town” and their summer farm. Each section of the book is narrated by a different member of the family. They all have their secrets to hide. Carleton describes Matthew’s struggle with two of the seven deadly sins with Shakespearian emotion.
My one critique was Callie’s narration was almost an afterthought and given far too few pages of exploration. Her secrets seemed forced and manipulated and not in harmony with the woman described throughout the book. (Is the roll of mother always marginalized?)
This book was a joy to read. Have you ever felt like you have closed the cover on the best book you’ve ever read? That's how I felt when I finished. “The Moonflower Vine" is not just a rediscovered classic -- but truly a classic.
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