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Winter Run (Shannon Ravenel Books)by Robert Ashcom
Synopses & Reviews
There are certain special--and rare-- books that refresh our understanding of how children see the world. This is one of those books. It's the story of a boy growing up in a lost time in an idyllic place--rural Virginia of the late 1940s.
Charlie Lewis is the only child of city people who, after the war, choose to live at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains on a "gentleman's farm" near Charlottesville. Six years old when his family settles in the renovated corn crib on old Professor Jame's place, Charlie grows up in his personal version of heaven. His innocence is, of course, lost in the process. And so is his version of heaven.
But, as the old saying goes, still waters run deep, and Charlie runs deep, with a natural (almost supernatural) affinity for the land and its animals. For knowledge , he instinctively turns to a group of older black men, some of whom work the farm, others who are neighbors. Jim Crow laws and "the curse left on the land by slavery"--as old Professor James puts it--are still very much in evidence. Even so, Charlie's passions endear him to these men. They understand that he is lonely even if he does not. They watch out for him. And more--they love him.
Winter Run is a story that lets us escape for a moment our own noisy and complicated contemporary lives. Like The Red Pony, like Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals, it takes us back to the joys of childhood's unrestricted enthusiasm and curiosity.
Set in the 1940s, this is the story of a lost time in an idyllic place. It belongs to Charlie Lewis, the only child of city people who, after the war, choose to live at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.
Charlie's father is often away. His mother is cool and detached. There aren't other children nearby. None of this makes much difference to Charlie, who's been set down in his personal version of heaven. A kid with a natural (almost supernatural) affinity for the animals all around him, Charlie's driven to decode their mysteries.
Six when his family settles in the renovated chicken house on old Professor James's "gentleman's farm," Charlie's true education comes from an ancient, half-blind mule, from the boar hog in the hog pen with his harem, a mother fox, and four domestic dogs gone wild. Later on, the adolescent Charlie finds himself equally intrigued by the mysteries of their Maker.
Always present is a group of older black men, some of whom work the farm, others who are neighbors. Charlie's urge to understand animals endears him to these men who see that he is lonely even if he does not. They watch out for him. And more-they love him.
WINTER RUN is about the passion for nature, how it develops, how it never lets go, and how it transforms.
About the Author
Robert Ashcom was raised in Albemarle County, Virginia. A graduate of Brown University, he has taught school, bred and raised thoroughbred horses, and served as a master of hounds and huntsman to the Tryon Hounds in Tryon, North Carolina. He is the author of Lost Hound, a nonfiction collection, and his prose and poetry have appeared in a variety of journals. He and his wife, Susan, now live on a farm near Warrenton, Virginia.
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