I always get homesick for my North Carolina hometown at this time of year. There’s nothing like a Southern summer with long lake days, surprise thunderstorms, lightning bugs, homemade Butterfinger ice cream, country music concerts, and nights at the drive-in theater. Here are the 12 books I’m reading for a dash of Southern comfort until my next trip home.
The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson
An immersive and breathtaking work of historical fiction, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PERSIMMON WILSON follows the epic journey of a slave who travels from a brutal New Orleans sugar plantation to the Texas frontier in search of his lost love and his own identity. This novel is perfect for readers who love COLD MOUNTAIN and THE INVENTION OF WINGS
The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson
Slightly South of Simple
Despite swearing to never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff, Caroline Murphy returns home after her marriage falls apart. Caroline's sisters soon join her in their childhood home and their mother, Ansley, begins to feel overwhelmed by her adult children. Then someone from Ansley's past shows up and the secret she's kept from her daughters for years might finally be exposed.
The Last Ballad
Set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in 1929 and inspired by actual events, THE LAST BALLAD chronicles an ordinary woman's struggle for her dignity and rights in a textile mill. This lyrical novel also brings to life the forgotten struggle of the labor movement in early twentieth-century America, and pays tribute to the thousands of heroic women and men who risked their lives to win basic rights for all workers.
And the winner of most fitting title goes to SOUTHERNMOST—a stunning novel about judgment, courage, heartbreak, and chance. After a flood washes away a small Tennessee town, an evangelical preacher offers shelter to two gay men and risks losing everything: his religiously prejudiced wife, his unaccepting congregation, and his young son caught in the middle of a custody battle.
The Twelve-Mile Straight
Grab a glass of sweet tea and hunker down with this gorgeous novel set in rural Georgia during the Depression and Prohibition eras. After two babies-one with light brown skin, the other dark-are born to Elma, a white sharecropper's daughter, a black field hand is accused of having raped her and is murdered. In the years that follow, as Elma begins the difficult task of raising her babies, everyone on the farm is forced to contend with the actions that led to this man's death.
The Summer Girls
In this enchanting story set on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe captures the complex relationships between Dora, Carson, and Harper, three half-sisters scattered across the country—and a grandmother determined to help them rediscover their family bonds. Truths are revealed, mistakes are forgiven, and precious connections are made that will endure long beyond one summer.
Three sisters reunite on Sullivan’s Island off the coast of South Carolina after years of separation in this first installment of the Lowcountry Summer trilogy. Fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Dorothea Benton Frank will be charmed by this heartwarming series that explores the depths and complexities of sisterhood, friendship, and forgiveness.
I've always loved the idea of living on an orchard. It seems so romantic to me. But life isn't that simple for Janie, the keeper of an orchard in Elberta, Alabama. As the world closes in on Elberta and threatens to destroy it, Janie tells the story of its people: her granddaddy who was determined to preserve the town's legacy at any cost, his wife whose sudden death throws everything into chaos, the black orchardist harvesting in a white locality where he is not welcome.
Song Yet Sung
I'll read anything James McBride writes, and SONG YET SUNG is no exception. It's a rich, deeply affecting story about a runaway slave whose escape sets loose a chain of dramatic events among slave catchers, plantation owners, watermen, other runaway slaves, and free blacks. This is a novel about tragic triumph, violent decisions, and unexpected kindness.
Before We Were Yours
In 1939 Memphis, Rill Foss and her four sisters are wrenched from their happy family life and thrown into a cruel orphanage. In present-day South Carolina, Avery Stafford's perfect life is disrupted when a chance encounter compels her to take a journey through her family's long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption. This is Southern historical fiction at its finest, and is actually based on one of America's most notorious real-life scandals.
SOIL is a darkly comic novel about an ambitious environmental scientist who moves his family to Mississippi to pursue his dream of cultivating new and progressive agriculture. But things don't pan out as Jay expects and he suffers financial ruin within a year. Then, a dead body appears on his farm and Jay is convinced he's being framed for murder. Drawing on elements of classic Southern noir, dark comedy, and modern dysfunction, SOIL is about the gravitational pull of one man's apocalypse and the hope that maybe, just maybe, he can be reeled in from the brink.
The Underground River
Set aboard a nineteenth century riverboat theater, this is the moving, page-turning story of a charmingly frank and naive seamstress who is blackmailed into saving runaways on the Underground Railroad, jeopardizing her freedom, her livelihood, and a new love.
FLYING SHOES is the stunning debut novel from Lisa Howorth, the cofounder of Square Books in Oxford Mississippi. It's based on the unsolved case of Howorth's stepbrother. An honest and luminous portrait of a particular time and place in the South, FLYING SHOES is the story of a reluctant woman forced to revisit her stepbrother's murder when a detective calls her 30 years later.