Susan's Reviews > The Ballad of Tom Dooley

The Ballad of Tom Dooley by Sharyn McCrumb
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Aug 22, 11

bookshelves: historical-fiction, based_on_true_crime, arc-edition
Read from August 20 to 21, 2011 — I own a copy

This historical fiction is getting good reviews, so don't let me put you off reading the book if it sounds like something you'd enjoy, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to be the odd (wo)man out on this one.

I like the idea of the book – learning the story behind the ballad of Tom Dooley. The problem I had was with the telling of the story. I like more history in my historical fiction, and this one has too much speculation for me. It goes into the mind of a relatively minor person in the real story, servant to the married lover of Tom Dula, and into the mind of Zebulon Vance, eventual attorney for the defense.

There wasn't a single significant character in this book that I think I would have liked had I known them in person. Most of the story is from the point of view of Pauline Foster, the servant, and a more hateful person is hard to imagine. If I had to read one more time about Vance's political background and aspirations, I was going to have to murder him, never mind that he's been dead for more than a century.

There was too much repetition of the same events and same phrases, and it became tiresome. The characters seemed one-dimensional to me.

What is the true and complete story of Tom Dula? It is unlikely that anyone will ever know, and the author does give her reasons for why she thinks her version is correct. I don't think that I would have always drawn the same conclusions that she does, but that is why it is called historical fiction. Sharyn McCrumb has many fans, but if this book is typical of her writing, I can't count myself among them.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher.
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Reading Progress

08/21/2011 page 67
20.0% "So far, I don't like any of the characters and the story is boring me. I hope it gets better."

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Tara (new)

Tara Chevrestt Wow. You rarely give out those two stars... This is one I'm glad I decided not to enter for. Thanks for the review.


Susan I know, I hate to give out such a low rating, but I just didn't enjoy the book.


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