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Parchment of Leaves
 
by
Silas House
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Parchment of Leaves

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  1,619 ratings  ·  205 reviews
When Silas House made his debut with Clay's Quilt last year, it touched a nerve not just in his home state (where it quickly became a bestseller), but all across the country. Glowing reviews-from USA Today (House "is" letter-perfect with his first novel), to the Philadelphia Inquirer (Compelling. . . . House knows what's important and reminds us of the value of family and...more
Hardcover
Published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (first published August 16th 2002)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Cheryl
Sometimes you just want a simple story. You read a book and it's so lyrical and bewitching that you can't seem to put it away. And when you do, the story calls to be picked back up. This was one of those books. Simple, sensuous prose and a strong "voice."

In the prologue you get to see the mysterious main character, Vine, who is said to be so beautiful that she puts a spell on the men who look at her:
A thin smile showed itself across her fine, curved face. Her hair was divided by a perfectly st
...more
Connie
4.5 stars (rounded up to 5)
Vine, a beautiful Cherokee woman, spent her childhood in the Kentucky mountains in the early 1900s. There is a superstition that she puts curses on the lumbermen that come near her. Saul, a man with an Irish heritage, falls hard for her. Vine leaves her Cherokee community to become his wife and join his family. When World War I begins, Saul leaves their area for a job cutting pine trees which will be used in the production of turpentine. Vine is left behind to care for...more
Josh
I’d been trying to get around to this one for some time. The fact that it was voted as one of the April reads within the group "On the Southern Literary Trail" was just the nudge I needed. How poignant that the timing just happened to be the same week that the redbud planted off our back patio was in full bloom (granted the 1/3 acre subdivision plot I occupy certainly isn't within the spirit of the turn of the century Eastern Kentucky in which House describes the redbuds, flowers, creeks, meadow...more
Ctgt
I walked out to the tree and put my fingers to a leaf, smooth like it was coated with wax. I could feel its veins, wet and round. I had always found comfort in the leaves, in their silence. They were like parchment that holds words of wisdom. Simply holding them in my hand gave me some of the peace a tree possesses. To be like that-to just be-that's the most noble thing of all.

Hills of Kentucky, early 1900's.
A small group of Cherokee live on Redbud Mountain outside of town. Vine, a Cherokee girl...more
Carol
I have nothing negative to say about this book. It was truly excellent. I always feel weird about giving five stars, feeling obligated to give *some* kind of constructive criticism. Here? Nothing. I can't find one thing. Believe me, I tried. (I don't give five stars very easily.)

So I guess I'll talk about all the things I liked:

When it comes to Voice, Silas House is up there with Mark Twain. I could literally hear these characters talking. I now plan to read everything else he has written, based...more
gina
One of the best books I've ever read. I wish I had read it instead of listened to it though because I wanted copy so many of the lines. I will probably ask for a copy as a gift so I can underline and mark in it. The writing is beautiful and speaks to my southern soul. Also, it felt like he was in a way writing my families story. I've always wondered how in one generation the intermarriage of a Native American to a white person could loose all connection to their heritage. This book answered this...more
Marg

One of the big advantages of being part of a book club is that you often find yourselves being encouraged to read books that you just normally wouldn't read. This is especially true if that particular book club has quite eclectic tastes. This year alone we have read Fifty Shades of Grey the book that shall not be named, To Kill a Mockingbird, and then this book among others.

A Parchment of Leaves is a book that I hadn't heard of before, or even the author! It is historical fiction, but it is firm...more
Sara
What I liked most about this book is that it never for one second pretended to be something it's not. It is what it is...a story about people, a way of life that is gone and the struggles and changes that come along with living. There were never any gimmicky moments of magic or mystery...it has a very down to earth feel. Beautifully written and engaging right until the very last page.
Susan
The setting for this book is the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky in the early 1900s. It is the story of Vine, a beautiful Cherokee woman and her husband Saul, a white man. Vine leaves her family home to live with her husband’s family on God’s Creek. When war breaks out Saul must leave his family and go to work for the war effort. He leaves them in the care of his younger brother, Aaron, who he trusts will take good care of them all. But everything won’t be okay. There is something sini...more
Katie Abbott Harris
A beautifully told story, "A Parchment of Leaves" takes the reader to the early 1900's in the Appalachian mountains. Vine, a young Cherokee woman, is the narrator, and she tells of her romance and marriage to Saul, an Irishman who lives in a nearby settlement. Many town members discriminate against her, but those in her close circle, including her mother-in-law, Esme, accept her unconditionally. Particularly disconcerting and ominous is the fixation that Saul's younger brother, Aaron has on her....more
Virginia Ullrich-serna
This is a very good book. Written as sort of a journal of the life of a Kentucky Cherokee at the turn of the century. Vine meets and marries a white farmer/logger. It is well written and Silas' description of the life style and attitudes of the people of the Kentucky mountains is so true. The book is not all roses and fun and the family struggles are even applicable to the economic times of today.
Silas writes as if he himself lived the life of Vine and her family. If you love Sharyn McCrumb the...more
Trista
Coming from a similar family history this book touched me in a way that most wouldnt understand. House touched down on a issue regarding family ancestry that is a huge part of this country, though few seem to grasp this. I come from ancestry of Sappony,Cherokee, and Irish which began in the early 1800s.For my ancestors to be in interracial marriages in a time of great racial hostility and bigotry, is amazing and proves that love can overcome great obstacles.My hat is tipped to those who come fro...more
Mike
Review to follow. But I've got a lot of catching up to do. It really cuts into your reading, you know?
Nancy
Written from a male perspective, and taking place in the early 1900's in the rural hills of Appalachia, this book explores a developing relationship between Saul (the main character) and a beautiful Cherokee girl who is purported to have mystical powers. Multiple characters enter the story, and you are drawn into a world brimming with natural beauty, with years of deeply-ingrained history affecting every character, as they move towards the very satisfying end of the story.

Several reviews mention...more
Libby Chester
A raving fiver!!! Astonishingly good. This is a book I could read again and there aren't many of those. The novel is set in 1917 Crow County, Kentucky. House grew up in Laurel County, Kentucky and says he based the fictional Crow County on the neighboring county of Leslie, where he spent much of his childhood. 'A Parchment of Leaves' is about home, belonging, love, family, betrayal, all loose and wondering around everywhere in the pages of this novel. The protagonist is Vine, a full blood Cherok...more
Courtney
Vine, a Cherokee girl, marries white man, Saul Sullivan. Saul's younger brother, Aaron, who has always been somewhat of a misfit with a sinister attraction to Vine, eventually rapes Vine who then kills him with kitchen knife. Vine buries Aaron and tells no-one except her closest friend, Serena as she knows Cherokee woman could not get fair trial. Beautifully descriptive book with regard to emotions and the natural setting but, for me, it moved slower than Clay's Quilt which I enjoyed more.
Tina
I found this to be a very eloquent and moving novel. It's a beautifully written story about a Cherokee woman who marries an Irishman in Appalachia during World War I. A little slow-moving at times, but the imagery of the landscapes, mountains, creeks, etc. is so beautiful that it carries the reader through. This is a book about family, friendship, heartbreak, loneliness, and love. By the end, I changed my four stars to five.
Kirsten
An engaging story, well told. Learned a bit about the Cherokee in Appalachia (Learning + Reading Fiction = Good). But still unsatisfying somehow. I'd say this is kind of a vacation read: entertaining, but not terribly profound.
Stephanie
I loved this because I have Cherokee ancestors on my mother's side and I enjoyed the descriptions of the old way of life that my Scotch Irish ancestors lived. The work itself is beautiful and the story is good.
Craig Pfeister
I just want to make it clear the two star rating is not because it's a bad book, rather I just found it "alright". To be fair, this is likely a matter of taste.
Karyl
What a beautiful and haunting book. Vine, a young Cherokee girl, saves Saul's younger brother Aaron from a snakebite in the early 1900s. Come 1917, Vine decides she wants to marry Saul, even though he's not a Cherokee, and moves away from her home to live with him. It's definitely not an easy transition, but it's made easier with the love that Saul's mother Esme gives to Vine, even though an interracial marriage at the time was almost unheard of. Things aren't all hunky-dory, however, as Aaron k...more
Jeanette
4.5 star! Silas House writes these men and women well. And their locale even better. There is such a mountain/holler feel and circumstance. His nuance on the wider community culture and interchange is superlative, as well. Vine tells her story. It's simply told, although it is not in any way, IMHO, a simple story. Yet the way the story is told, it always holds her (Vine's) heart and her mind at its core. I love this old-fashioned way of relating family experience too. You don't get to read Saul'...more
Alvera
This is the second Silas House book I've read. What strikes me most is his beautiful use of language to capture the place and people of Appalachia and the ways they talk and think with both brutal honesty and a sort of reverence.

pg. 43 "I imagined the music drifting over the creek like mist on an autumn evening, spreading itself out with its high notes pressed tight against the mountain. I felt like a bird had been let loose beneath my ribs.... Being amongst that music and the people hollering t...more
Laureen
Wonderful writing, great story. For those who like a fast-paced, page turning experience, this novel might not appeal but please don't let that hold you back from this novel. I normally don't like a lot of descriptive passages, but this book kept me turning the pages as the descriptions of the environment were breathtakingly beautiful; you could feel the natural environment as well as see it in your mind. The writing was so beautiful and not the least boring.

Then there is the story. Not romantic...more
Darcy Stewart
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shanna
With the recent passing of my grandmother, I have been recalling stories from her life and once again have been stirred to possibly write a book. But I have not been sure if I wanted to write something fictional or biographical. So anyway, I thought I should read some books associated with the place and culture from in which she lived and from which I came to help me get some ideas. So this review is written with that in mind.

Overall, I thought it was a good book. The description of the places w...more
Bonnie

Silas House presented a talk at Kentucky Wesleyan College after the publication of his novel, A Parchment of Leaves. He had previously published Clay's Quilt and has delivered another story of rural Kentucky in the early 1800s. He realistically portrays the people of the hill country including their family loyalties, superstitions, and uniqueness.

At the heart of the story is Vine, a Cherokee girl who comes from Redbud Camp high in the mountains. People claim she has power to paralyze and invoke...more
Lily
Enjoyed this first exposure to the work of Silas House. Tells the story of a Cherokee woman who marries an man with Irish immigrants among his ancestors. It is set at the beginning of the century through WWI in Appalachia. I particularly enjoyed the similes and metaphors House used to describe the physical surroundings. There were about 30 characters who were named, each of them developed appropriately for their role in the plot. Among the secondary characters, the local midwife was especially w...more
Thomas Holbrook
Reading Silas House’s writing is akin to visiting your mother’s dinner table - familiar surroundings, food full of memories and remembered flavors, in the company of people who have helped to shape the person whom you have become. This volume is the second of the “Free Creek Trilogy,” the only one I had not read and the completion of the history that created Clay, whom was met in Clay’s Quilt. It was a wonderful (now) family reunion where I learned the things of my “family” that had been held in...more
Vivian
Dec 01, 2011 Vivian rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: literary fiction readers
Recommended to Vivian by: Kanawha County Public Library
Every now and then I receive a book recommendation that completely surprises me (in a good way). A Parchment of Leaves by Silas House is one such book. I belong to a local book group that meets at the Charleston Town Center Mall on the last Wednesday of each month in the Community Room at Panera Bread Company (if you're in the Kanawha County area please join us). This was our book for the month of November.

The story is set in eastern Kentucky during the early 1900s and centers on a young Cherok...more
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Silas House is an American writer best known for his novels. He is also a music journalist, environmental activist, and columnist. He lives in Eastern Kentucky, where he was born and raised.

House's fiction is known for its attention to the natural world, working class characters, and the plight of the rural place and rural people. He is also a music journalist, environmental activist and columnist...more
More about Silas House...
Clay's Quilt Same Sun Here The Coal Tattoo Eli the Good Something's Rising: Appalachians Fighting Mountaintop Removal

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“I had always found comfort in the leaves, in their silence. They were like a parchment that holds words of wisdom. Simply holding them in my hand gave me some of the peace a tree possesses. To be like that-to just be-that's the most noble thing of all.” 19 likes
“Maybe all the secrets of life were written on the surface of leaves, waiting to be translated. If I touched them long enough, I might be given some information no one else had.” 8 likes
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