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In the Garden of Stone

3.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  112 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Winner of the South Carolina First Novel Prize Shortly before daybreak in War, West Virginia, a passing train derails and spills an avalanche of coal over sixteen-year-old Emma Palmisano's house, trapping her sleeping family inside. The year is 1924, and the remote mines of Appalachia have filled with families like Emma's immigrant laborers building new lives half a world ...more
Paperback, 335 pages
Published May 1st 2013 by Hub City Press (first published April 15th 2013)
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The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska OrczyFlowers for Algernon by Daniel KeyesI Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Hannah  GreenThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
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207th out of 220 books — 23 voters
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75th out of 75 books — 15 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jenny (Reading Envy)
I had planned to read this book for several reasons - the author is local, the publisher is the beloved local Hub City Press (with a sister bookstore where I could spend all of my money,) and it won the South Carolina First Novel Prize. It is set in West Virginia when so few books are, and I want to read books set in every state. My local book club selected this as the annual local-author pick, and I believe she will be at the event we're having in a few weeks. All good reasons to go ahead and r ...more
Susan Tekulve
Feb 07, 2013 Susan Tekulve rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Well, I have written this book, and now that I have edited it, I have read it many, many times. Obviously, I can't realistically, or objectively, review this book, but I hope you will read it, enjoy it and tell me what you think.
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I was interested in this book because my paternal grandmother's family were Sicilians who ended up in West Virginia and western Maryland coal country. We're a taciturn people on my father's side of the family; my wife and sister-in-law marvel at the long, drawn out conversations we have about weather -- the current weather, the past weather, the weather to come -- but for my brother and I, that's just how you communicate with those relatives.

My wife and sister-in-law, being bolder, nosier peopl
Apr 02, 2013 Hemingwaysurfer rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful new novel for serious readers of fiction. Set in Southern Appalachia, this is a novel for those readers who love literary fiction, for those who love the quietly paced novels of an earlier era when readers didn't concern themselves with what wine to pair with a book or what shoes to match with a book. If you love books, real books, books which change the way you view a culture or place and time; if you love how language can raise us all to levels beyond the pedestrian and eve ...more
Sep 16, 2013 Kitty rated it it was ok
The jacket insert made this book sound much better than it actually was. I plundered through however. I read in the authors notes at the end that some of the book had been previous short stories which made perfect sense as the chapters did not flow well and sometimes offered information that had already been written. I picked out the book based on the jacket description and unfortunately was disappointed.
May 19, 2015 Melinda rated it really liked it
There are novels that are more poetry than prose, and In the Garden of Stone is certainly one of them. Tekulve writing style is hypnotic and mesmerizing. It seemed as if Tekulve was in the room telling me a story rather than me reading her words.

The structure of the book is innovative as well. The argument can be made that this is a collection of short stories instead of a novel. In fact, some of the chapters have been published as standalone stories. Each chapter is another slice of life of the
Aug 31, 2013 Amy rated it did not like it
I just could not get through this book. Yes the writing is lyrical and poetic and I'm sure quite beautiful. But it is too disjointed.

A major event that is touted on the jacket cover takes place as if in a dream...and not in a good way (like Frida Kahlo's). It doesn't unfold in a surreal doesn't unfold at all. I had to look at the page numbers to make sure I didn't get a faulty copy of the book. Was I missing a page? A paragraph? Is it too traumatic to tell? Nope.

And then we jump just
From the inside cover:
In The Garden of Stone is a multi-generational tale about the nature of power and pride, love and loss, and how one impoverished family endures estrangement from the land and each other in order to unearth the rich seams of forgiveness. Bleak, harrowing, and beautifully told. In The Garden of Stone, is a haunting saga of endurance and redemption.

I will definately read more of this authors works, she has a gift for writing and telling stories about the people and the land
Carol Dickerson
Mar 05, 2014 Carol Dickerson rated it liked it
Tekulve is touted as the new souther writer on the cover blurbs of this novel, and I guess I was hoping to find a new Lee Smith. Disappointed. Tekulve's prose is lovely and her descriptions of the landscape and flora of Appalachia evocative, but these stories (some previously published as such) do not hold together as a novel. Too many unresolved plot lines and inexplicable changes of heart among the long train of sort of related characters....
Bass Man
Apr 02, 2013 Bass Man rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It is great to read a novel about a region that doesn't receive enough attention. The descriptions of place are fantastic and the honeymoon chapter is one of the most beautiful and lyrical I've read in recent years. If you like literary fiction, you'll like this novel.
Mar 19, 2014 Diana rated it it was ok
I really, really wanted to love this book based on the fact that it won an SC First Novel Prize and the author teaches in state. The story sound luscious and I thought I would get this grand, generational story. Well, that bubble was burst when one of the two main characters dies early in the story and at the hands of a character that made absolutely no sense at all. I found the story very depressing and disjointed in that the connections between chapters seemed loose. Had we been able to follow ...more
May 22, 2014 Mom2nine rated it it was ok
I usually like Hub City Press books, but this one just didn't flow. It seems that some of the chapters had been previously been printed as short stories. Although a short story can be expanded, the chapters did not flow, including some repetition. Perhaps it needed editing. There appears to be a consensus in the reviews that the author can write, which is why I stuck with the story; but as I came to the end I felt as though it was a waste of my time. The first couple's story was lovely and could ...more
Jun 03, 2013 Jill rated it it was ok
This is a saga that begins in 1924 in an impoverished immigrant coal-mining community in West Virginia and continues up to 1973. In each chapter the perspective changes from among the major characters, beginning with Emma when she is 16, and ending with her granddaughter Hannah at age 28.

Throughout the years we don’t get much of a view of the interior lives of these characters except for the recurring sorrow, mourning, and longing for escape that hangs over their bleak lives. The pervasive pove
Jun 06, 2013 Ti rated it liked it
Shelves: books-sent-to-me
The Short of It:

Full of sorrowful, memorable characters with writing that immediately pulls you in.

The Rest of It:

The story begins in War, West Virginia and spans from 1924 to the 70′s. After a rail accident buries her home in coal, sixteen-year-old Emma is rescued by a railroad man by the name of Caleb. Shortly thereafter, the two marry and begin their life together. Caleb is a good man but prone to dreaming and when he dreams up a garden to rival that of any found in Sicily, Emma has her doubt
The Setting~ West Virginia came alive through the descriptions in this novel. The descriptions of the landscape made me feel as if I were really there.The times featured were interesting as well. When we imagine the past we think of a simpler time. Things may have been simpler but they were also harder than we can imagine.

The Pace~ This tale unwound in a deliciously slow way.

The Characters~ The people in this book were flawed, which is just another word for realistic. I miss spending time with
RoseMary Achey
Sep 02, 2014 RoseMary Achey rated it it was ok
This book was difficult for me to engage. The writing was indeed poetic and the characters seemed highly realistic, but the way in which the chapters were constructed was somewhat disjointed.
Feb 14, 2015 Stephanie rated it it was ok
Constant jumps in time made it really hard to connect with the characters and feel any sort of investment in their fate.
Lisa Runda
May 08, 2016 Lisa Runda rated it did not like it
The more I think about reading this book, the less I like it. This story had so much potential, which is why I kept reading it, but every subplot lead nowhere. Important events were glazed over, likable characters were killed off and/or became unlikable. The story was very disjointed, with many unanswered storylines. It gets one star for its lush descriptions of scenery.
Kim Soto
Aug 31, 2013 Kim Soto rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
Spoiler alert.
I expected this great epic story about a woman's married life with the man who washed her feet after a coal train crashed on her house.... But he DIES a third of the way into the book. And the garden of stone was his project, to boot!
This book had such wonderful reviews, but I had to return it to the library, and I think I'll leave it there!
Laura Powers
Sep 02, 2013 Laura Powers rated it liked it
Chapters in this book had repetitive content - sometimes even whole paragraphs were repeated. Although sections may have been written and published as short stories, they should have been edited for the novel. I found this distracting from the whole and it prevented me from enjoying the book. Otherwise, the characters and story line were mostly interesting.
Kristin (Kritters Ramblings)
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings

A generational story that takes place on one plot of land through a 50 year span as the land passes on and on and what can happen from one generation to another. With both male and female leads, this book went somewhere different than I ever expected it to.
Sep 03, 2013 Stefanie rated it liked it
An old fashioned book spanning many generations of a family living in the south. Beautiful descriptions of nature. Good storytelling with interesting characters some of which she does not dive into deeply enough. It reminded me of an adult Little House on the Prairier.
Nov 29, 2013 Ljbishop rated it liked it
This book does include some beautiful, poetic language, but I agree with other readers that it is somewhat redundant. I read it because it's not the genre I usually read but the story was engrossing. It has a somber tone, but all in all, it's not too bad.
Linda Rae
May 03, 2013 Linda Rae rated it did not like it
Didn't particularly care for it. She repeats herself too often throughout the book telling the story again and again of the characters. And it was overly sad.
Mar 31, 2013 Rebecca rated it did not like it
I hate to complain but this book was poorly written and the content was very disorganized. Main characters just disappeared and events came and went with no clarity.
Patricia Meek
Dec 05, 2015 Patricia Meek rated it it was amazing
Susan Trkulve's lines are so well crafted it's like having a literary meal. Her work is compelling, and I didn't want the tale to end.
Jun 05, 2013 Anita rated it did not like it
Sad to say I wasn't able to finish this one. The chapters were too disjointed and I quickly lost interest.
Oct 30, 2014 Heather rated it did not like it
DNF. I might go back to it at some point, but right now I'm just not feeling it.
Jun 29, 2013 Autumn rated it liked it
This novel is really more about the style of the writing. It's very beautiful.
Brenda marked it as to-read
May 10, 2016
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Susan Tekulve’s nonfiction, short stories and essays have appeared in journals such as Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, The Georgia Review, Connecticut Review, and Shenandoah. Her story collection, My Mother’s War Stories, received the 2004 Winnow Press fiction prize. Author of Savage Pilgrims, a story collection (Serving House Books, 2009), she has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ ...more
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“Sadie heard a flurry of wing snap as yellow, orange, and tiger-striped moths flew into the light. Dean stood haloed by moths that pulsed like slips of paper along his shoulders and arms. He lifted each one on his finger, naming them for her.” 1 likes
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