Synopses & Reviews
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.
"The the willful Molly is no hot-house flower, and her determination to live her own life—for better or worse—is the driving force of this powerful novel."—USA Today USA Today
andquot;Big, sweeping,epic. andquot;- MSNBC.COM
"Smith is such a beautiful writer, tough and full of grace, that soon you are lost in the half-light of Molly's haunted landscape, listening to the voices of the ghosts, wishing they'd let you stay longer."—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Atlanta Journal Constitution
“She is nothing less than masterly. . . . Smith brings to [her work] an ear for speech and voice that most other writers can only envy.” —The New York Times Book Review New York Times Book Review
"An authentic American saga, bittersweet as an Appalachian ballad, peopled with wonderfully vivid characters, so brilliantly constructed we never even notice the quilt-like artfulness of its design. One of those books you can either roam contentedly around in for days, or devour at once, in a rush of pure pleasure."
—Kirkus Kirkus Reviews
"Smith plays with authorial antecedents and literary references from Charlotte Bronte, Faulkner and Milton, and there are echoes of Dickens and Henry James. . . . In On Agate Hill
, author Smith is in full command of her talent for strong stories and evocative characters, and her always fine, shining prose is extra-pearly here. . . . Lee Smith has never written a lousy book; she may never have written a lousy sentence. And so, to declare this novel her best yet--well, that's saying something. On Agate Hill
is more ambitious than Family Linen
and more exquisitely crafted than Oral History
. . . . Smith is such a beautiful writer, tough and full of grace, that soon you are lost in the half-light of Molly's haunted landscape, listening to the voices of the ghosts, wishing they'd let you stay longer."
—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"On Agate Hill
is a masterpiece and may come to be considered a more important novel than even Smith's wonderful Fair and Tender Ladies
. . . . Somebody should give a copy of this book to a member of the Nobel committee."
—Donald Harrington, The News and Observer Raleigh News and Observer
"Set among the ashes of the Civil War, Lee Smith's new novel brings a dead world blazingly to life. . . . A book that seeks to rejuvenate the rapt early reader in us all. . . . [Lee Smith] is a subtly intrepid and challenging storyteller."
—Washington Post Book World The Washington Post
"Lyric intensity. . . . Inventive storytelling. . . . Lee Smith imagines the life of an orphan girl growing up in the post–Civil War South." —The New York Times Book Review New York Times Book Review
"On Agate Hill, as lyrical and haunting as an Appalachian ballad, casts a powerful charm."—The Boston Globe Boston Globe
"Big, sweeping,epic. "- MSNBC.COM
The "New York Times" bestselling author of "The Last Girls" has written a novel that imagines the life of an orphaned girl coming of age in the post-Civil War South, and follows the young girls journey through love, betrayal, motherhood, and a murder trial.
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 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.
About the Author
Lee Smith is the author of nine previous novels as well as three collections of stories. Her ninth novel, The Last Girls, was a New York Timesbestseller as well as co-winner of the Southern Book Critics Circle Award. The recipient of an Academy Award in Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1999, Smith lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina.
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