Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Still raving about author who blew me away

I'm sure it's happened you to:
You've read and raved about a novel. It's inspired you to pick up another of that author's works. You have such high hopes for it. And, sadly, it can't live up to those expectations.
That's pretty much what I thought lay in store for me when I got a copy of Hillary Jordan's "Mudbound."
How, I wondered, could this work (her first) live up to "When She Woke," a novel that completely blew me away?
Let's just say I would like to be president of the Hillary Jordan fan club.
I was absolutely enthralled by "Mudbound."
This author can craft a story. And this story could not be more different than the other.
Whereas "When She Woke" took us to a fictional future, "Mudbound" takes us to a more realistic past.
Jordan's first novel is the story of the families Laura, a city-raised white woman struggling to adjust to farm life in post World War II Mississippi, and Florence, the black woman working for her struggling with the racism that surrounds her and her soldier son's return home.
Both women chafe against the bonds the society of the time has placed on them. And neither will be the same following the events that intertwined their families.
Jordan writes stories that have you hooked from first page to last, filled with fully developed characters.
In just a few sentences she conveys so much.
We learn about Florence's son Ronsel:

"I never thought I'd miss it so much. I don't mean Nazi Germany, you'd have to be crazy to miss a place like that. I mean who I was over there. There I was a liberator, a hero. In Mississippi I was just another nigger pushing a plow. And the longer I stayed, the more that's all I was."
We learn about Laura's husband Henry:
"That land had been in my mother's family for nearly a hundred years. My great-great-grandfather and his slaves had cleared it, wresting it acre by acre from the seething mass of cane and brush that covered it. rebuild and replant: that's what farmers do in the Delta.
My father did neither."
 We learn about Henry's brother Jamie:
"I would have great adventures and perform acts of daring and defend my country, and it would be glorious. And I would be a god.
Fifteen years later the Army granted my wish. And it was not. And I was not."
And as we read Jordan's work we learn about ourselves.
I'm already trying to fit a stop at the Printer's Row Lit Fest into my summer plans now that I've learned she'll be on hand.
Have you discovered - or rediscovered - any authors lately?
- Tricia Ambrose



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