Synopses & Reviews
A dusty box discovered in the wreckage of a North Carolina plantation house contains the remnants of an extraordinary life: an 1870s diary of a young girl, letters, poems, songs, newspaper clippings, court records, marbles, rocks, dolls, and bones. It's through these treasured mementos that we meet the unforgettable heroine of Lee Smith's new novel.
Raised in the smoldering ruin of the post-Civil War American South, young Molly Petree, now orphaned, has no intention of wasting time on self-pity. She means to live her life to its fullest. So, when a mysterious benefactor appears out of her father's past to rescue her, she doesn't look back until she is an old woman and returns to the farm on Agate Hill. Spanning half a century, On Agate Hill tells the story of a woman who risks everything to remain true to herself. It's a novel of obsessive love, unexpected adventures, and luck both good and bad. Like a ballad of the Old South, Molly Petree's tale resonates with passion, humor, and drama.
Lee Smith, a virtuoso of voice and vision, creates flesh-and-blood characters tempered with equal doses of comedy and tragedy. Like her popular and beloved novels Oral History and Fair and Tender Ladies, On Agate Hill is storytelling at its very best.
"Following her 2001 Southern Book Critics Circle award winning novel, The Last Girls, Smith's 10th novel chronicles the post Civil War life of a precocious Southern orphan using a slapdash patchwork of journal entries, letters, poems, recipes, songs, catechism and court records. Molly Petree, the daughter of a slain Confederate soldier, begins a diary on her 13th birthday in May 1872, near Hillsborough, N.C., at Agate Hill, the plantation of her legal guardian, Uncle Junius Hall. Seeing herself as 'a ghost girl wafting through this ghost house,' Molly falls under the spiteful devices of Selena, the scheming housekeeper, who marries a terminally ill Junius to inherit the plantation. Under Selena's watch, Molly is neglected, mistreated and raped before Simon Black, who fought alongside Molly's father, rescues her and enrolls her in the Gatewood Academy, where she becomes 'an educated, fancy woman.' After graduating, Molly marries sweet-talking Jacky, but tragedy dogs her: Jacky dies a particularly miserable death, their baby dies and when Molly returns to Agate Hill, she finds it in ruins. Molly's story is moving, but Smith's structure the narrative's pieces are the contents of 'a box of old stuff' found during Agate Hill's renovation is needlessly contrived. (Sept. 19)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Lee Smith is quite simply one of North Carolina's treasures, and the publication of a new book by her is always a happy event....The first part of the novel may seem slow. But so much happens in the last 200 pages that we are, by the end, thankful for the pace of the early sections." Charlotte Observer
"Smith has worked her magic yet again; her rollicking humor, keen sense of place, deft characterizations, and raucous storytelling bring to life yet another set of memorable people and places." Library Journal
"One of those books you can either roam contentedly around in for days, or devour at once, in a rush of pure pleasure. Take your pick." Kirkus Reviews
Raised in the ruin of the post-Civil War American South, young Molly Petree, now orphaned, has no intention of wasting time on self-pity. So, when a mysterious benefactor appears out of her father's past to rescue her, she doesn't look back until she is an old woman and returns to the farm on Agate Hill.
Molly Petree, orphaned by the Civil War, is by her own definition andquot;a spitfire and a burden. I do not care. My family is a dead family, and this is not my home, for I am a refugee girl.andquot;
Raised in the ruins of a once prosperous plantation on Agate Hill in North Carolina, she's a refugee who has no interest in self-pity. To document her headstrong life, she collects its artifactsand#8212;her lifelong diaries, letters, poems, songs, newspaper clippings, court records, marbles, rocks, dolls, bones (some human, some not).
When a mysterious benefactor appears out of her father's past to rescue her, teenaged Molly Petree never looks back. Taking what she is offered, she saves herself and then risks everything to hold true to her nature and to true love. She casts aside two prosperous, well-born suitors to marry a dashingand#8212;and philanderingand#8212;mountaineer only to be accused of his murder. The end of Molly Petree's story is as unpredictable and as passionate as her own wide-open heart.
Spanning half a century, Lee Smith's portrait of a fiery Southern woman recalls the South from Reconstruction to the Roaring Twentiesand#8212;and, in the process, gives us Molly Petree, living and breathing, gripping the reader's arm as the story unfolds.
Indomitable, unforgettable, and orphaned by the Civil War, Molly Petree is about to embark on an extraordinary journey toward a life she could never have imagined…
- A Washington Post Book World Best Book
- An Atlanta Journal-Constitution Notable Book
A dusty box discovered in the wreckage of a once prosperous plantation on Agate Hill in North Carolina contains the remnants of an extraordinary life: diaries, letters, poems, songs, newspaper clippings, court records, marbles, rocks, dolls, and bones. It's through these treasured mementos that we meet Molly Petree.
Raised in those ruins and orphaned by the Civil War, Molly is a refugee who has no interest in self-pity. When a mysterious benefactor appears out her father's past to rescue her, she never looks back.
Spanning half a century, On Agate Hill follows Molly's passionate, picaresque journey through love, betrayal, motherhood, a murder trial--and back home to Agate Hill under circumstances she never could have imagined.
About the Author
Lee Smith is an American fiction author who typically incorporates much of her home roots in the Southeastern United States in her works of literature.
Table of Contents
Letter from Tuscany Miller
Agate Hill 5
Notes from Tuscany
Paradise Lost 129
Further Notes from Tuscany
Up on Bobcat 217
Plain View 273
Another Country 311
Final Notes from Tuscany