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A Parchment of Leaves

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,340 Ratings  ·  258 Reviews
Winner-Kentucky Novel of the Year, 2003
Winner-Award for Special Achievement from Fellowship of Southern
Writers
Nominee-Southern Book Critics Circle Prize
Nominee-BookSense Book of the Year (longlist)

"So it is that Vine, Cherokee-born and raised in the early 1900s, trains her eye on a young white man, forsaking her family and their homeland to settle in with Saul's people: h
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Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 26th 2003 by Ballantine Books (first published August 16th 2002)
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Cold Mountain by Charles FrazierChristy by Catherine MarshallProdigal Summer by Barbara KingsolverShe Walks These Hills by Sharyn McCrumbFair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith
Best Books Set in Appalachia
21st out of 405 books — 630 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Help by Kathryn StockettThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Best Southern Literature
161st out of 882 books — 2,201 voters


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Community Reviews

(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
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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
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Josh
Apr 12, 2014 Josh rated it it was amazing
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
Carol
May 08, 2012 Carol rated it it was amazing
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
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Ctgt
Mar 02, 2016 Ctgt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
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
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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
Sara
Sep 24, 2011 Sara rated it really liked it
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.
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
Oh, good Lord, this is one hell of a terrific novel. Silas House has written a tale of a young Cherokee woman, Vine, who marries a young white man in the years just before World War I. The couple live in a small valley ( a "holler") tucked up high in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky. This novel is made up of a lyrical blend of Appalachian folklore, music, and natural science and ecology, and the story of a tragedy that begins to unfold early on in the book. One senses early on that ...more
Susan
Apr 19, 2015 Susan rated it it was amazing
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
Marg
Jul 24, 2012 Marg rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club

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
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Kirk Smith
Sep 13, 2015 Kirk Smith rated it it was amazing
This is a very good piece of Southern literature that is satisfying in a nostalgic way. **I could identify with Vine,the main character(of Cherokee descent),quite well as my own great-grandmother was Cherokee. At the heart of this book is exposure to the way racism has always been fueled by land ownership rights and the way that laws always restricted rights of persons of color while quite obviously favoring White European ancestry. This book exposed me to "Melungeons", a census classification ...more
Mortalform
"Daylight is the time God moves about the best. I've heard people say that they liked to watch the world come awake; sunlight just makes is seeable. In that moment when light hit the mountain, just when the sun cracked through the sky big enough to make a noise if our ears could hear it..."

"I walked out to the tree and put my finger 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 a pa
...more
Katie
Jan 01, 2008 Katie rated it really liked it
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
Jun 23, 2012 Virginia Ullrich-serna rated it it was amazing
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
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Trista
Jan 14, 2013 Trista rated it it was amazing
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
Lawyer
Review to follow. But I've got a lot of catching up to do. It really cuts into your reading, you know?
Nancy
Jun 23, 2014 Nancy rated it really liked it
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
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Libby Chester
Mar 14, 2014 Libby Chester rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 03, 2012 Courtney rated it really liked it
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.
Lynda Stauffer
Sep 15, 2014 Lynda Stauffer rated it it was amazing
This writer brings us the story of a Cherokee woman named Vine living in the mountains of Kentucky in the early 1900's. This story is very well written, as it is true to the dialogue of that time, place and culture. The beautiful Vine marries a White man, a very good man, and the story flows out from her young adult life through her middle years. The writer's lyrical phrasing and authentic voice put me with Vine as she told me the story of her life. This story is about being a daughter, a wife, ...more
Jennifer
May 01, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is the kind of story that I found myself getting lost in every time I picked it up. I could sense the sights, sounds and smells of the place as if I was there. It was a world, not unlike, I believe some of my ancestors lived in. It helped me to connect with what life in their mountain town might have been like in the early 1900s, maybe that is why the women in the story seemed alive and real. Definitely a recommended read.
Tina
Jul 01, 2008 Tina rated it it was amazing
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.
Rochelle
Feb 22, 2015 Rochelle rated it it was amazing
Wow, this is a beautiful book. The writing is lyrical while still being real and sharp. I highly recommend it. I couldn't put it down. It is about Vine, a young Cherokee woman in Kentucky in the early 1900's. She is a beautiful woman who some believe put's spells on men. Saul, a white man, stumbles across her and they fall in love and get married. What follows is the life she lives after leaving her beloved family behind. The sapling Red Bud tree she takes with her to her new homes always there ...more
Kirsten
May 27, 2011 Kirsten rated it liked it
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
May 04, 2009 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
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
May 03, 2010 Craig Pfeister rated it it was ok
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
Alesha Leveritt
Feb 01, 2016 Alesha Leveritt rated it really liked it
I think I may love Silas House - and since the only Valentine I get will be in a book, that means something!
Jeanette
May 09, 2014 Jeanette rated it really liked it
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
Ellen
High in the mountains of rural Kentucky in 1917, Silas Sullivan fell in love with a beautiful Cherokee woman named Vine. After their marriage Vine left her family in the Redbud settlement to go live among the white people who would never quite accept her although, as Silas' wife, she was accorded some respect. Esme, Silas' mother, quickly grew to love Vine, while Aaron, Silas' younger brother looked at Vine with deep longing and desire. Silas and Vine welcomed a daughter named Birdie, but shortl ...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...

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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.” 22 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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