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Bloodroot (Vintage Contemporaries)by Amy Greene
Synopses & Reviews
Named for a flower whose blood-red sap possesses the power both to heal and poison, Bloodroot is a stunning fiction debut about the legacies of magic and madness, faith and secrets, passion and loss that haunt one family across the generations, from the Great Depression to today.
The novel is told in a kaleidoscope of seamlessly woven voices and centers around an incendiary romance that consumes everyone in its path: Myra Lamb, a wild young girl with mysterious, haint blue eyes who grows up on remote Bloodroot Mountain; her grandmother Byrdie Lamb, who protects Myra fiercely and passes down “the touch” that bewitches people and animals alike; the neighbor boy who longs for Myra yet is destined never to have her; the twin children Myra is forced to abandon but who never forget their mother's deep love; and John Odom, the man who tries to tame Myra and meets with shocking, violent disaster. Against the backdrop of a beautiful but often unforgiving country, these lives come together only to be torn apart as a dark, riveting mystery unfolds.
With grace and unflinching verisimilitude, Amy Greene brings her native Appalachia and the faith and fury of its people to rich and vivid life. Here is a spellbinding tour de force that announces a dazzlingly fresh, natural-born storyteller in our midst.
“Some novels are so powerful, so magical in their sweep and voice, that they leave you feeling drugged. Close the pages and the people in them keep right on talking to you. Amy Greene’s debut novel, Bloodroot, set in the bone-poor hollows of the eastern Tennessee mountains, is such a book....I found myself close to tears at several turns — devastated along with the characters by another crazed loss — and yet never depressed. Greene’s writing is so pure and effortless, so evocative of a far-off place, that the beauty of her words transcends whatever miseries her characters must overcome....Greene, who grew up in the Smoky Mountains, captures what poverty looks and feels and sounds like. Her descriptions of a life lived by the railroad tracks rival any corner scene from The Wire. The vernacular is effortless and thick....This is a terribly sad, breathtakingly good read. Greene, get to writing another one quick.” Karen Valby, Entertainment Weekly
"Masterful....A fascinating and authentic look at a rural world full of love and life, dreams and disappointment." The Boston Globe
"If Wuthering Heights had been set in southern Appalachia, it might have taken place on Bloodroot Mountain....Brooding, dark and beautifully imagined." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"That rare sort of family story that feels intimate instead of epic....Alluring and wonderful." Louisville Courier-Journal
"Greene's prose will cast a spell on you." Glamour
"Amy Greene's Bloodroot can stand proudly beside Alice Walker's The Color Purple and Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle, two works which likewise examine the isometric push of the human spirit against the immovable forces of tyranny and poverty. Greene's novel has everything I savor in fiction: flawed but sympathetic characters, a narrative as unpredictable as it is engaging, and a setting rendered with such a vivid palette of local color detail that you'd swear you were there." Wally Lamb, author of The Hour I First Believed
"Reminiscent of McCarthy's early Appalachian fiction....Hard to put down....What consistently remains is Greene's spot-on account of a land and its people — with its old-fashioned Scots-Irish dialect and its close-knit communities, its homespun Christianity and its folk remedies." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Bloodroot takes place in Appalachia and, yes, Greene lovingly describes its mountains and hollows, its waters filled with bluegills....But this story is really about the fraught, sometimes dangerous, bonds between children and their mothers." The New York Times Book Review
"Haunting....Woven into [Bloodroot] is mountain magic, family history, rural poverty and each generation's effort to make things better for their children." Knoxville News-Sentinel
"Stirring....The wild beauty of Appalachia is...entrancing....The novel's charm comes from its hints of magical realism. Women with 'gifts' — to heal, make love potions and put curses on their enemies." USA Today
"Bloodroot spins a web of tragic history, mountain lore, and forbidden love amid the beauty of east Tennessee's hill country....Will steal your heart." The Madison County Herald
"One of those warm, wise novels that turns into a word-of-mouth sensation....[Bloodroot's] weird swirl of Southern Gothic and bleak domestic drama keeps the pages turning....Greene has a vivid sense of her mountain and its surrounding communities and that sense of a natural wonderland slowly coming unhinged gives the book [its] soul." The Onion's A.V. Club
"Bloodroot is a marvel of a first novel, its world deftly conjured, with a mood and magic all its own. I don't know what captivated me more, the vividness of its voices or its evocation of a corner of the American landscape both foreign and familiar — but I was riveted from start to finish." Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha
"Romantic, riveting, and beautiful: Bloodroot demonstrates how the soul of one woman can possess the spirit of many....Reminiscent of Toni Morrison....Filled with passion and poetry, Bloodroot is an exciting beginning for a literary career." Sacramento News and Review
"A magical story, a story of passion, madness, a mystery, and a wild and tempestuous place." Hudson Valley News
"[Bloodroot's] power is awesome, peeling away layers of the human experience like an onion until it reaches a message of redemption. Greene proves herself a newcomer to watch." The Star-News
"Amy Greene is a born storyteller who depicts the voices and folkways of Appalachia with both eloquence and verisimilitude. A striking debut by a gifted writer." Ron Rash, author of Serena
"Creates indelible, endearing images of the mountains, the small towns, and the townsfolk [of Eastern Tennessee]." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Myra Lamb is a wild girl with mysterious, haint blue eyes who grows up on remote Bloodroot Mountain. Her grandmother, Byrdie, protects her fiercely and passes down “the touch” that bewitches people and animals alike. But when John Odom tries to tame Myra, it sparks a shocking disaster, ripping lives apart. Bloodroot is the dark and riveting story of the legacies — of magic and madness, faith and secrets, passion and loss — that haunt one family across the generations.
About the Author
Amy Greene was born and raised in the foothills of East Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, where she lives with her husband and two children.
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