Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Parchment of Leaves” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
Parchment of Leaves
Silas House
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Parchment of Leaves

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  2,961 Ratings  ·  331 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
Published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (first published August 16th 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Diane S ☔
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Saul marries Vine, a young Cherokee woman, the settle in Kentucky, the Appalachian mountain region. They live with Saul's mother Esme until they can build their own cabin. They eventually move into the new cabin, and have a daughter they name Birdie, and for a time they are happy. It is, however, a time of war, WWI, and Saul, a logging foreman will have to work away from home on a distant mountain. Saul's younger brother Aaron has long pined for Vine, and even though he has a wife and child ...more
This book is beautiful.

The story is about the marriage of a Cherokee woman and a white Southerner, but that is just the beginning. The husband’s brother falls in love with her too. It is about love relationships between man and wife and deep friendship between women, coming to care for another and doing what is right. What if laws do not protect you, what do you do then?

The story happens before and up to the conclusion of the First World War. The setting is Appalachia, the Kentucky hinterland.
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
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
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A reader can usually rely on two strong traditions which stem from the American South: solid storytelling and an authentic use of Voice. This Southern writer, Silas House, is capable of both here. For a younger writer, he has an unusually good grasp of Voice in his protagonist, and he weaves a story that you want to jump in and embrace.

Setting is lush here, too. A Parchment of Leaves is reminiscent of both A River Runs Through It and Charles Frazier's gorgeous Cold Mountain. For me, there was
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
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a gem! A beautifully written story about Vine. A Cherokee woman that it is said is so beautiful that those who see her will die. However, Saul will not be deterred and takes her as his wife. She has to leave her people and her home to be with Saul, an Irishman. As she makes a new home with Saul, his family, and a new way of life tragedy strikes. Secrets start to build and are revealed. How heavy is the burden of keeping promises and secrets hidden? Who can be trusted and how strong are t ...more
Libby Chester
Mar 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Kirk Smith
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
Apr 17, 2014 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
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
Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 has a very down to earth feel. Beautifully written and engaging right until the very last page.
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
Z chirban
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written snapshot of life in Appalachia .
Aug 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining but not amazing.
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
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book, but had a lot of trouble deciding what to rate it. I've never read a book like this before and it is quite different from the fiction I typically read. The author's writing is beautiful and poetic and he really breathes life into the characters and scenery of the novel. This book for me was ultimately about forgiveness and I loved Vine's journey and how she learned to forgive others, but more importantly how she discovered how to forgive herself. I was also impressed ...more
Review to follow. But I've got a lot of catching up to do. It really cuts into your reading, you know?
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: neh-2017
I guess I've read too many contemporary thrillers, but my reaction at the end was "That was it?" I didn't select this book for pure entertainment; I'm attending an NEH institute on Appalachian literature and this is one of the selections, but I was initially brought in with the character of Vine, "a Cherokee girl who was able to invoke curses on anyone passing her threshold" (3). Sounds like "and then the murders began" would appropriately follow, right? Unfortunately, Vine isn't a witchy woman; ...more
Glenna Pritchett
This book spoke to me.

It spoke to me of love, in all its forms as named by the Greeks: storge, philia, agape, and eros. Of mothers who will do anything for their children, and for other women's children too. Of women who form unbreakable bonds even closer than those of sisters. Of community and the spirit of helping one another. And of the connection between a man and a woman that truly makes them one.

It spoke to me in the dialect of my family, the Appalachian way of speaking full of remnants of
Wendy Ballard
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Parchment of Leaves is a lyrical, thought-provoking novel. House's description of people and landscapes is breath-taking. Not every person is beautiful in the classical sense and not every landscape is forgiving. But every person and landscape are unforgettable.

Set in the 1900s in rural Kentucky, A Parchment of Leaves is the story of Saul's marriage to Vine, a Cherokee woman. Saul and Vine's marriage begins quietly. They live in Saul's mother's home until they build their own home a short dis
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3pt75-liked
Skilled storytelling in the voice of a strong and keen-sensing Cherokee woman, Vine, as she lives a simple life in the richly earthy surrounding of rural Kentucky in the early 1900's. There she marries Saul, starts a family, and finds herself facing relationship strife with her brother-in-law, Aaron. Vine is a very well-drawn character with whom it is easy to immediately identify even when coming from a significantly different perspective. Her personal and authentic point-of-view is admirably we ...more
Jan 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Native Kentuckian Silas House's story of a young Cherokee woman, Vine, who marries into an Irish family is filled with references to the natural world of the mountains of eastern Kentucky. I myself have felt a connection to the area on many camping trips in and around Red River Gorge and Natural Bridge State Park, near the birthplace of my maternal grandmother. House maintains a wonderful sense of place throughout the book. Set during the years around the first world war, the story follows Vine ...more
"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
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
Dec 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • My Old True Love
  • River of Earth
  • Cataloochee
  • One Foot in Eden
  • Storming Heaven
  • Moon Women
  • The Trail of the Lonesome Pine
  • The Dollmaker
  • Oral History
  • Kinfolks: The Wilgus Stories
  • The Tall Woman
  • Affrilachia: Poems by Frank X Walker
  • All the Living
  • Blackberries, Blackberries
  • The Long Home
Silas House is the nationally bestselling author of five novels--Clay's Quilt, 2001; A Parchment of Leaves, 2003; The Coal Tattoo, 2005; Eli the Good, 2009; and Same Sun Here (co-authored with Neela Vaswani) 2012--as well as a book of creative nonfiction--Something's Rising, co-authored with Jason Howard, 2009; and three plays: The Hurting Part (2005), This Is My Heart for You (2012), and In These ...more
More about Silas House

Fiction Deals

  • Mercy Among the Children
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Take Me with You
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty
    $7.49 $1.99
  • The Traveler's Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Little Giant of Aberdeen County
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Her Sister's Shoes (Sweeney Sisters #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Rock Harbor Collection: Without a Trace, Beyond a Doubt, Into the Deep, Cry in the Night, and Silent Night (Rock Harbor #1-5)
    $5.99 $1.99
  • A Thousand Tomorrows (Cody Gunner, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Shoeless Joe
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Death in Venice
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Blonde
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Ever After (Lost Love, #2)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Rescue
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Lords of Discipline
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Sheltering Sky
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Gena/Finn
    $13.99 $1.99
  • A Charles Martin Collection: When Crickets Cry, Chasing Fireflies, and Wrapped in Rain
    $14.99 $3.99
  • Remember Tuesday Morning (9/11, #3)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Scavenger's Daughters (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Under the Udala Trees
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Streets Have No King
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Passion
    $11.00 $1.99
  • This Dark Road to Mercy
    $10.24 $1.99
  • The Language of Hoofbeats
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Not Perfect: A Novel
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Seekers (Kent Family Chronicles, #3)
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Don Quixote
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Essex Serpent
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Storycatcher
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Domestic Violets
    $9.24 $1.99
  • The Devil Wears Prada
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Temptation of Adam: A Novel
    $16.99 $1.99
  • Half a Heart
    $4.99 $2.49
  • The Keeper of Secrets: A Novel
    $9.24 $1.99
  • A Garden of Earthly Delights (Wonderland Quartet, #1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Golden Notebook
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Life of Christ
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Good Mother
    $5.74 $1.99
  • The Palest Ink (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters Prequel)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Go: A Coming of Age Novel
    $4.99 $1.99
  • As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Just a Drop of Water
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Child in Time
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Lowcountry Stranger (Sweeney Sisters Series Book 2)
    $2.99 $0.99
  • The Man in 3B
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Enemy Women
    $9.74 $1.99
  • Save Me
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Better Nate Than Ever (Better Nate Than Ever #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Time Bomb
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Heat and Light: A Novel
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Reunion
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles)
    $16.99 $1.99
  • Stay Up With Me
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Loser
    $10.99 $1.99
  • I Know This Much Is True
    $11.73 $2.99
  • Go Set a Watchman (To Kill a Mockingbird, #2)
    $10.76 $2.99
  • Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
    $10.99 $2.99
  • The Harder They Come
    $9.26 $1.99
  • Before I Let You Go
    $10.00 $2.99
  • I'll Be Your Blue Sky
    $13.00 $2.99
  • The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Map and the Territory
    $8.99 $2.99
  • You Know Me Well
    $7.09 $2.99
  • Father's Day
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Skeletons at the Feast
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Even Now (Lost Love, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street: A Novel
    $7.99 $1.99
  • This Bright Beauty
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Intervention (An Intervention Novel)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Star Sand
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Secrets of Nanreath Hall
    $11.74 $1.99
“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.” 30 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.” 11 likes
More quotes…