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The Coal Tattoo

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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  1,262 ratings  ·  102 reviews
Life isn’t easy for twenty-two year old Easter and her teenage sister Anneth, who were left parentless as young children. While Easter, a devout Pentecostal, finds solace in the powerful music of her church, Anneth seeks comfort in the rougher edges of life found in dancing, drinking, and fast living. Easter believes in tradition and is intent on rearing her wild young sis ...more
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Published May 27th 2011 by Recorded Books (first published 2004)
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Stephanie
Easter and Anneth are sisters who are different from one another. Easter is a very proper and God fearing young lady. Anneth is the opposite, she loves to go out drinking and dancing and generally getting into trouble. Easter being the older of the two tries her best to keep Anneth under control, but it ain't easy.

The two lose their parents as young children and are raised by their grandparents. But the two end up alone while still very young after losing their last surviving grandmother. Yet th
...more
Carol
Definitely not as strong as A Parchment of Leaves. I just could not get into this book. I couldn't stand the two main characters, Easter and Anneth. They lacked the strength and depth of Vine and Esme in the previous story. Both of them were just so flat and frustrating. I guess I'm a little biased because I can't stand reading books set in the 60's, but I thought I would still give this one a chance hoping it would be as good as A Parchment of Leaves. Definitely not though. By the end, I was in ...more
Rebekah
I will admit I didn't know I was in the middle till i was done, and to make it worse it was the last book written, and apparently the Author didn't know they would work together till this story came about, but now I will read with more than I wanted when I get to the other stories. What is it about me and connect the dots books.
The Coal Tattoo by Silas House was a lovely story. it was a drama with evil corporate being defeated by the little guy (or gals). It was strong women facing life head on
...more
Susan
This was another great book by the amazingly talented Silas House. It is the story of two sisters who lived in eastern Kentucky; one was as wild as could be while the other was very sensible and church-going. The story is about the people and culture of the eastern mountains. The bond of sisterhood and love they shared helped them throughout the trials of their lives. I was excited to find characters in this book from two of House's other books, A Parchment of Leaves and Clay's Quilt. I don't th ...more
Peacegal
More overwrought Southern Appalachian chick lit from my book discussion group. I plowed through this one in a few days because I didn't want to read it, but as the book group leader I'm compelled to.

While the writing style was evocative and creative, too often the characters and storyline simply left me rolling my eyes. Here we have yet another set of women who are searching for life and fulfillment, which always boils down to a good man and a bayybee. Oh, for Pete's sake.

I'm sure I'm not the o
...more
Rivera Sun
A poignant, texturally rich, gritty with the feel of Appalachia, humid, real, and just plain great story. I was rooting for the characters from the first scene. "Anneth was dancing . . . and it was like seeing joy made into a human form that could travel across the dance floor." Excellent. Silas House plunges you into the world of wild-girl Easter and her straight-laced big sister Easter, twisting you along a narrative ride that never grows dull and leads to unlikely places. You'll be glad there ...more
Nancy
A story of two very different sisters, their complicated relationship, and their very deep connection to the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky. Easter is the older sister, who as a devout Pentecostal is the responsible and steady one, whereas Anneth is the younger sister, wild and carefree and prone to more than a few compromising situations.

Several reviews mentioned that there were three books in the series (Clay's Quilt 2001, A Parchment of Leaves 2003, and The Coal Tattoo 2004). It should be
...more
Jennie Pollard
Silas House is the best author I have ever read. Especially when it comes to Appalachian fiction. His books make me homesick for where I grew up. When reading his books I can picture myself in the story and I get so involved in the lives of the characters that I never want the books to end. I suggest this book to anyone even if they aren't from Appalachia.
Missi
A must read for Kentuckians-- rich local color, poetic figurative language that captures the heart of a people bound by mountains and hard-scrabble life and their love of land. I first read this book several years ago, along with the others in the series--Clay's Quilt and Parchment of Leaves--- but loved rereading this one for my book club.
Nancy
This book was a sore disappointment to me after reading "A Parchment of Leaves" and loving the character of Vine so much. I was not happy about Vine's painful death & the regrets she had, and then how her daughter Birdie died, but the flashbacks to her friendship with Serena were wonderful. Her grandchildren Easter, Anneth & Gabe were not worthy of Vine; with Anneth especially rubbing me the wrong way. I wanted more of Gabe in the story, while poor Easter could never relax for she was al ...more
Betsy
Narrator: Kate Forbes. She did a beautiful reading. It was as though she was not the voice of any one character, but the voice of the rural Kentucky itself.

Coal Tattoo is a quiet, beautiful book. The plot moved along swiftly, but in a quiet way like the rural Appalachian area where it took place. I was very taken with sisters Easter and Anneth and the characters that surrounded them and was sad to let them go when the book ended. The book was covered in sadness. But the love between the Easter a
...more
Amy
Absolutely loved it. And I'm really honored to be able to say that the author is both my friend and mentor. This is the third of three books that are a loose trilogy about a Kentucky family living in coal mining country. The relationships Silas describes and the scenes he paints are just beautiful.
Martine
Definitely captures an almost indescribable love of land, which is quite the accomplishment. I felt as though I were a part of Easter and Anneth's world. It was nice to be home again.
Kyrana Jones
“The Coal Tattoo” is the third installment in a series by Silas House. This sweet novel is strong enough to stand on its own if you haven't read the first two books in the series, “A Parchment of Leaves” and “Clay's Quilt.” This a story primarily of two very different sisters as they walk through various trials, sometimes successfully and sometimes just by enduring. It is also a reflection of life in a rural area and the influence of coal mining on a community. As lives of the sisters unfolds th ...more
Marina Robbins
I am devouring every book of Silas House I can. He writes for me. A Southerner who can smell the woods he describes. Who can hear the crackling of the fire pit in the backyard. Who can see the apron, the pots and pans, the baked good, the love for family. Family.

I picked this book up in a garage sale and tossed it aside thinking it was another hipster book about a mysterious tattoo. I am SO glad I read it. A coal tattoo relates to miners. This is a story that is central to mining families in Ke
...more
Wendy
The author didn't stretch too much to create the main characters - sisters who are opposites.
Joni Allison
"Easter felt the mountain behind her, its presence so big and real that she thought she could feel it breathing, something ancient and alive."

Like so many other books set in Appalachia, the land has such a palpable presence that the setting almost becomes a character unto itself. Silas House recognizes the power the land has on its people and captures and honors this power with his imagery and descriptive language. Set against this backdrop is the story of two sisters tied to each other and to t
...more
Billie Pangalos
wonderful story...but I just love Silas House's storytelling....
Patty Forrester
I loved it...anything by Silas House is a treasure.
Nora
Everything Silas House writes is worth reading.
Patty
I liked the book, but I didn't like the characters. Anneth especially seemed to be a spoiled brat who wasn't happy until everyone around her was miserable. Easter had no spine and all of the male characters were content to be led around by the b---s. I was raised in coal country, was present for the Quenmahoning mine disaster and the rescue of the miners. The book deserved to show a whole lot more respect to those who give their lives to the mines. This was just chick lit that didn't give a flip ...more
Rhonda
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marvin
This is the third book I've read recently (with My Sister's Keeper & Fall on Your Knees) about sisters--a "good" sister & a "bad" (but good-hearted) one. This one is less plot-driven than the other two, focused more on the sisters' relationship and, even more, on their relationship to their land & heritage in the hills of Kentucky where coal mining dominates. Both aspects are well treated; the "good" sister's on-again, off-again Pentecostal faith seems less fairly treated. When she f ...more
Ernie
Well written. Story is about the relationship between two sisters in rural Eastern Kentucky. The people about them are two-dimensional but allows the author to make his points about the sisters. Poetic. The story deals with two sisters who inherit the world of their grandparents ... but which is quite different due to the pervasive influence of the coal industry. They are part of the past and the coal industry is invested in keeping that past. --- Easter, one of the sisters, has the gift of seei ...more
Megan Adams
A beautiful story of the bonds that bind us to family and the land we grow up on. Silas House's writing possesses a quality that makes it lyrical and raw, and the story is realistic - My favorite passages are included below:

"She didn't feel an empty place inside herself because she had barely ventured out of these hills. She, did, however, feel funny because she not share these desires that the rest of the world seemed to have. She had never studied movie magazines and wished to be an actress, h
...more
Patricia
The Coal Tattoo is Silas House's luminous follow-up to his equally luminous Parchment of Leaves. In The Coal Tattoo we meet sisters Easter and Anneth, grand daughters of the unforgettable Vine Sullivan. We meet the people of Kentucky coal country, many of whom bear the 'coal tattoo' of the title - a physical mark from years of coal mining. Easter and Anneth don't bear coal tattoos, but they do bear intense love of their land - the mountains and hills of Kentucky. Easter, Anneth, their family, fr ...more
Stacy
The Coal Tattoo by Silas House was just so well written that I could not help but get drawn into the pages, walk up the moutain, and lie down in the fields with sisters Easter and Anneth.

Easter is the older sister, who fears that she will never settle Anneth down, or at least she fears she'll die trying. (These two characters are drawn from House's previous books, Clay's Quilt and A Parchment of Leaves; which I have not read).

The Coal Tattoo starts from the present and takes you back through t
...more
Jennifer S
I picked this audio book up recently at the library to listen to on a trip. The hardcover edition has been sitting on my bookshelf, in queue to read, along with two other novels by House since I saw him speak when I was in college.

The imagery in this novel is really beautiful. Growing up in the general area where the novel takes place and having visited many places in the East TN mountains (which are very much like the Kentucky mountains where the novel is set) I can say that House beautifully d
...more
Rose Taylor
I loved this book. It isn't a wishy-washy feel good story. But it also isn't dark. This book is just plain life (minus Easter's seeing.) I appreciate books that can make me feel a variety of emotions and this book did exactly that. I laughed, cried, and got angry, sometimes all within a single chapter. Normally I go for fantasy books, but this one was read for my Appalachian Literature class and I'm glad that professor got me out of my typical genre because this book is spot on.
Kathleen S
In The Coal Tattoo we learn about the land that has meant so much to the Appalachian people for generations, and one specific family, and they have changed as mining techniques change.

The Sizemore family, in southeastern Kentucky, has been frequently touched by death. When Easter and Anneth lose their parents and later the grandmothers who raised them, they become closer. Easter worries about Anneth as she goes through her teen years and loves the bars with their wild music. Easter is a born aga
...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
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More about Silas House...
A Parchment of Leaves Clay's Quilt Same Sun Here Eli the Good Something's Rising: Appalachians Fighting Mountaintop Removal

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