Sunday, April 5, 2015

Family Secrets and Intertwined Relationships

Annie Holleran is 15 and a half. On that night at midnight if a girl looks into a well, she will see the face of the man she'll marry. Annie doesn't want to join the other girls at the usual well, so she heads to the Blaine well. This is forbidden territory every since her brother Dale died. 

Annie's Aunt Juna accused Joseph Carl Blaine of the death, and he was hanged. Then Juna disappeared and now Annie is terrified that she'll return to make trouble. Annie is doubly terrified because it's an open secret in town that Juna is Annie's mother; and Joseph Carl, her father.

The setting, a small Kentucky town in the 1950's, draws you into the web of strange characters and a different life style. The families are poor. Most subsist by growing tobacco or lavender. The traditions, like looking into the well to see your future husband, seem far removed from the present day, but the characters believe in them.

According to her grandmother, Annie has the sight. She knows what will happen in the future. Juna had it also, but people believed hers came from her evil nature. Annie struggles with this comparison throughout the novel.

The story is told by two characters, Annie in the 1950s and her mother in the 1930s. While the juxtaposition of the two accounts adds depth to the novel, I sometimes found it difficult to remember the family relationships at different times. So many things were the same and yet different.

If you enjoy southern writing, this book has believable background
. I recommend it, it you like mysteries driven by family secrets.

I reviewed this book for Dutton.