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The Shade of My Own Treeby Sheila Williams
Synopses & Reviews
I sit in the shade of my own tree now, but it wasn't too long ago, I didn’t have a twig, much less a tree to sit under. I was running from a marriage that was no good. It took me fifteen years to take that first step, but once I did, I just kept going. Now, several years have come and gone. Already Time flies when you're having fun. Or running for your life.
I married my college boyfriend, Ted, when I was twenty-one.
After a few years of marriage, I knew that I had made a terrible mistake.
But once I was in, I didn't know how to get out. It was like being in prison. And I had a life sentence with no chance of parole.
I got three squares a day and had a bed, but that was it. There was hard labor and solitary confinement if I was uncooperative. Or if, as in Ted's words, I acted like a sassy, smart-mouth bitch.
Even when it got as hot as hell in the summer, I wore long sleeves. My arms were always bruised. One August, I wore turtleneck sweaters to work for two weeks until the marks of Ted's handprints faded where he had tried to choke me.
I know what you're thinking: She sounds so articulate She could get a job anywhere. Why didn’t she just leave? Why did she stay and put up with that?
How many times have I asked myself those questions? How many times did I beat myself up after Ted beat me up? I'll turn the tables on you. You don’t understand what I was dealing with. And for years, I didn’t understand, either. By the time I did, it was almost too late.
The slaps, pushes, kicks, and punches didn't start right away of course. The insults, put-downs, scoldings, and verbal abuse began slowly. He started with constructive criticism. I knew that I was in for it when he said, “Don't take this the wrong way, but . . .” or, “This is for your own good.” By the time he finished with me, I felt like I was six inches tall and three years old, standing in the corner for bad behavior.
Ted was charming in college. Smart and handsome, athletic and talented, he played a saxophone that Sonny Rollins would have been jealous of. Everyone loved Ted. Especially women. The cutest girls on campus threw themselves at him. I, on the other hand, was awkward and strange. I liked Bach, the Indian-influenced music of Alice Coltrane, Herbert Marcuse, and Jane Eyre. Ted could dance. I had two right feet and that is worse than two left ones. Ted talked and dressed cool. I didn't.
So when Ted Hearn asked the tall, gangly, studious-looking redbone girl from Ohio with straw-colored hair, braces, and glasses with lenses thicker than bullet-proof glass for a date, everyone was shocked. Especially me. I had never had a boyfriend like Ted before. I was thrilled and proud to be seen with him. I was finally cool. Ted took care of everything. He was wonderful. He made sure that my friends didn't take advantage of my weakness for loaning out books and albums and helping with term papers. He helped me deal with my mother, who had a tendency to be a little overbearing and critical. Ted helped me with my class schedules; he even started to suggest the subjects for the paintings that I did, because I thought that I was a painter. He was so protective of me. At least, that's what I thought at the time.
By the time we got married, the trap was nearly set. I was already isolat
Starting over in the Appalachian river country after leaving her abusive husband, Opal Sullivan takes refuge in a dilapidated but proud old house while befriending a parade of locals. Original.
Beloved author Sheila Williams beautifully captures the bittersweet humor and vivid adventures of women who survive the worst life can toss at them—and fight back to claim their right to be free, to be themselves, and to live in . . .
The courage to change doesn’t come easy. When Opal Sullivan walks out on an abusive husband after fifteen years, she has only her dreams in her pocket. Her new beginning starts in Appalachian River country, where she sees a bit of herself in a graceful but dilapidated house. Like Opal, the house is worn-out and somewhat beaten up, but it still stands proudly and deserves a second chance.
So Opal opens her doors—and her heart—to a parade of unforgettable characters. There’s sassy Bette Smith with her cantaloupe-colored hair and four-inch heels; short-tempered Gloria and her devilish son, Troy; the mysterious Dana, who dresses in black and keeps exclusively nocturnal hours; a dog named “Bear” who is afraid of his own shadow; and Jack, who doesn’t mind hanging out with an OBBWA (old black broad with an attitude). It is Jack who helps Opal understand a funny thing about life: You can’t move forward if you keep looking back. . . .
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