Friday, October 10, 2014

Jetta Carleton - The Moonflower Vine: A Novel

98. The Moonflower Vine: A Novel by Jetta Carleton (1962)
Length: 318 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Started: 7 October 2014
Finished: 10 October 2014
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 5 November 2000
Why do I have it?
I like historical fiction and Jetta Carleton is a new author for me.

In a novel which seems to be almost a radical departure for the subject that it covers, we meet the Soames family. They are a close-knit family who love and respect each other, and who have loyalty bred into their very bones. They also live in a time that seems to them to be a gift from God - in Missouri during the end of the nineteenth century and into the start of the twentieth century. It is a peaceful time that the Soames' live in, and they live life to its fullest; with a passion and delight which seems truly remarkable.

There are the parents, Matthew and Callie Soames, who had come to a Missouri farm as newlyweds. They leave the farm temporarily, and move to a nearby town where Matthew teaches for a time. The couple soon comes home again to their farm, to raise their family, and to live and love within their marriage. During their life together, Matthew and Callie alternately deceive each other, comfort each other, and even, in the end, come to understand each other.

There are the three daughters - Jessica, Leonie and Mary-Jo - who grow up loving their parents but wanting to escape from them. The women eventually do find their escape, each in her own way. And then there is the fourth daughter, Mathy, whose fate is the central family tragedy and whose life is the secret at the center of the novel. 

The Moonflower Vine is written with an honesty, strength, beauty and grace that is without a trace of false sentimentality. It portrays the struggles inherent to every human being, of coming to terms with one's true nature. But it is also a story of celebration, written about the quiet moments of joy - the moments of laughter, music, breakfast, weather and home - which are as much a part of life as violence and despair. 

This was Jetta Carleton's debut novel and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. In my opinion, this was a very interesting story, which accurately portrayed how hard life was in the nineteenth century and how difficult it was to make a living from the land. I give The Moonflower Vine: A Novel by Jetta Carleton an A+!

A+! - (96-100%)
Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

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