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Love and Lament

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  204 ratings  ·  40 reviews
A dauntless heroine coming of age at the turn of the twentieth century confronts the hazards of patriarchy and prejudice, and discovers the unexpected opportunities of World War I
Set in rural North Carolina between the Civil War and the Great War, Love and Lament chronicles the hardships and misfortunes of the Hartsoe family.
Mary Bet, the youngest of nine children, w
Paperback, 400 pages
Published August 6th 2013 by Other Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  204 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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May 17, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss, grit-lit
this is a straightforward and episodic novel about a girl born in 1887 in north carolina who grows to womanhood amidst many personal tragedies and historic events.

mary bet starts life with eight siblings, two parents and most of her grandparents, but through a series of illnesses and accidents and misadventures, she finds herself the last living child, left alone with her father, who is grief-maddened and becoming blasphemous as time goes on and life and loss continue to chip away at his sanity.
Dec 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
At times this read like Jane Austen giving the reader the small daily details, thoughts, and happenstances of a woman's life. But the similarities largely end there. Mary Bet's life was less socially restricted and this is North Carolina beginning when Mary Bet is six in 1893 and finishing in 1919 as soldiers do or do not return from the war in France.

Some parts of the story worked better than others. For example, I found the chapters taking place in France and telling of her suitor's life to b
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I checked it out from the library when I was just looking through the shelves (actually this last trip, I went to the end of the alphabet and picked my books from there). The time period and Mary Bet's situation sounded interesting.
I'm going to try and be vague so I don't ruin anything while also describing the book (let's see how this goes, shall we?). Very early she experiences loss after loss, but it wasn't as sad as you'd think. The deaths happened s
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Life is difficult in rural North Carolina in the years between the Civil War and the first World War. People worked hard and didn’t have the material things that are taken for granted in modern life. Families were large and people didn’t travel that much so family reigned supreme. But change was coming. These were the years that electricity started to be used, that cars started to jostle horses for dominance on the roads. Indoor plumbing was another major step forward, and the economy was moving ...more
Jo Ann
Sep 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
There is indeed much love, and much lament, in this novel about a young girl coming of age in rural North Carolina. The story takes us from 1893 to 1919, years in which the main character, Mary Bet, comes of age, loses most of her family, struggles with life, love, sin and finding her place in a new and changing filled both with danger, hardship, war, and joy, friendship, opportunity and forgiveness. I love Mary Bet Hartsoe and her love of her family, her spirit...this girl/woman's g ...more
LittleAlice Wonder
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
A gentle reminder of faith and love, Love and Lament, is the gentle tale of a girl whose loss become her greatest strength; and whose ability to overcome seemingly endless obstacles has made for a long and beautiful tale. A good read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, it was certainly a lucky find.
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Love and Lament is a coming of age story about a young girl named Mary Bet who faces an unfathomable series of events that leaves her with a father that loses his mind (goes bananas, literally.) She is extremely relatable and she's a character whom you really grow to care for over the course of the read. Thompson paints a vivid picture of early 20th century North Carolina, where it was ushering in electricity and railroads, and you really get a great feel for what it might be like to be alive du ...more
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very long, well written epic novel. Takes place in a poor mountain area of North Carolina. This tale pretty much covers the life of a woman named Mary Elizabeth. She’s the sole survivor of 9 children in the Hartsoe family and the youngest. Her life is hard, but she perseveres and lives an interesting life. Very well written and full of raw emotion.
Cindy Kline
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A long sad-ish story

It went along slowly. Mary Bet is a traumatized main character; by loss and religion. As her family dies off, she fears the devil and makes one-sided deals with God. It’s worth the read.
Stefanni Lynch
Nov 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Drawn to the cover and the North Carolina setting, but this book was a mishmash of themes and characters, almost as if the author wanted to get all his thoughts down in one book, without a clear intention.
Jun 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a well written, but heartbreaking story about two families, the Hartsoes and the Murchesons. Cicero Murcheson marries Susan Elizabeth Hartsoe and she bears 9 children. The tragedies that follow their lifeline are tenderly expressed by this author. The tale is told from the perspective of Mary Bet Hartsoe, the youngest and last surviving child of the family. She has witnessed the deaths of her grandparents, siblings and mother. She has had to deal with her brother’s deafness and had to wa ...more
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
One dead child after another and then their mother. How could Cicero stand any more? He only had three of his nine children left and was constantly worried they would be gone too. His worry wasn't over with the three that were still living.

LOVE AND LAMENT was the saga of Mary Bet Hartsoe and was set in the late 1800's when typhoid was rampant, when deaths were on a daily basis, and when inventions of machinery were beginning to surface to make factories and lives easier. The late 1800's was a t
Aug 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: review-copy, bea-2013
Playing Jokers Blog: all suits of genres and bookish news

It should have been named Lament and Love, because not only was that the order in which I feel like events in the book go but it also describes how I was feeling about the book.

The Hartsoe family experiences one tragedy after another, witnessed and experienced by the youngest child, Mary Bet. It leaves a profound mark on her and the family's psyche. The story then follows Mary Bet as she grows up, learning some secrets and what kind of an
Primrose Jess
Sep 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Initially the cover and the advertisement in the bookstore as a Southern Gothic novel attracted me to this novel. The story of a young girl growing up in North Carolina during the turn of the century and the Great War intrigued me. Mary Bet Hartsoe is the youngest of Cicero Hartsoe's 9 children. Thompson illustrates the world of post Reconstruction and religious devotion through the very young eyes of Mary Bet. Religion plays a strong theme throughout the book as Mary Bet views the world in bla ...more
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
The year 1887, was special for Haw County, it was the year that the town got their first railroad, but for the Hartsoe family, it was the year their daughter, Mary Bet was born. Mary Bet suffered the loss of most her family member by the time she was fifteen and as she grows into a young woman she is faced with even more difficulties and must find a way to survive the worst.

Even though the book starts out with a family tree that warns readers of just how many lives are lost in the Hartsoe family
Aug 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Quite enjoyed this book about a girl who grows into a woman, basically thru her early 30s just after WW 1. In a very small town in western NC, in a family with tragedy upon tragedy. But she perseveres and cobbles together a life for herself. One quibble, one scene when she is a young teen and I just thought it unnecessary and irrelevant. I was worried the book would head down that path and it would have ruined the book for me, completely. So I was pretty happy that it was more of an aside. But u ...more
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
What a poignant book. It left me a little speechless actually, a little spellbound~ It's a story that will pull at your heart and mind in a multi-layered way. It won't leave my thoughts easily~ in a good way.
This was the second book by J.M. Thompson that I have read. I actually met him at a book signing when "Love and Lament" was being released. I must say that this second book was much more enjoyable to me as a reader. He has a fine way of using prose. During the book signing he read for his au
Tracie Hall
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
I listened to the reading of this by Christine Williams. Sorry to be harsh, and it's probably just me, but the first 6 or so parts felt a bit too ambitious of an attempt to describe a tragic childhood full of loss (a mother, 8 siblings, a couple of romantic interests...), jumping from death to death and abandonments. Character and locations open up a bit after that, but a suspicion persists, despite some peeks into the character's familial and religious mores, that this will not evolve into a st ...more
Jan 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I almost gave up on this book when by page 42 about seven characters had already died. You must be able to tolerate depressing material to make it through this book (I love a depressing storyline). There really isn't much happiness in Mary Bet's life and she doubts herself throughout the book. But overall, it was a good story about a girl/young woman's struggles after the Civil War and into the 20th century and through WWI as she grows and matures in rural North Carolina. A bit slow at times, so ...more
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
I didn't think a book with so much death could be so very boring. The first three quarters or so just plod along following the main character, then suddenly there is a jarring point of view switch to her love interest overseas in the war. Sixteen years and two hundred pages after the death of her brother, the main character finally decides to investigate his cause of death, which might have been even more jarring than the sudden POV change. I really wanted to like this novel, but it was poorly w ...more
Nancy Valley
A saga of a young girl coming to age in North Caroline from 1893 -1919. i really enjoyed this period as the main character MaryBeth was about the same age as my own grandmother. Marybeth faces the death of most of her family early in the book. I enjoyed how the book portrayed women's life choices in this period. On the negative side I do have agree with some of the other reviewers it has some slow parts. ...more
Clover White
Sep 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed this book, though I don't feel capable of articulating what exactly made me love it so much. It may have been that it didn't follow the usual story arc of "woman experiences sorrow, grows as a person, and becomes athiest/non-conformist. It takes place during an interesting interval of history, and the ending is happy without being contrived or *too* happy. I loved it. ...more
Sep 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
I'm a little over one hundred pages in and I'm giving up on it now. Too many other good books to reak! It's moving way too slow for me. I'm also not feeling the southern gothic vibe other than it's set in the south. ...more
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
After the civil war, a young girl watches as one by one her 8 siblings pass away and she continues on with her father. It lacked that by in; where you care so much about the character that you laugh and cry with them. Good story though.
RhondaJ Nelson
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This started out a bit slow and depressing for me but about a third of the way through I was very interested in what would happen to Mary Bet. I wondered if she would ever find someone to love and who would it be.
Jul 17, 2014 rated it liked it
I reviewed this book for Booklist. My review can be seen here! ...more
Aug 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: family-themed
An intimate story as told through the eyes of a young girl growing up in the South post Civil War, early 20th century. Mary Bet has faced much loss, trials and tribulations in her young life yet with spirit and gumption she puts one foot in front of the other and moves on through life.
Sue  Gerth
May 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
My review is a bit personal but I loved it!
Amanda Snow
Sep 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
So slow. So boring. If it wasn't for book club I would have quit at 50 pages. ...more
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
There were some things about this book that I really liked, but it seemed to me to get slower, and slower, and slower. About 2/3 of the way through I completely quit caring.
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John Milliken Thompson is the author of America’s Historic Trails and Wildlands of the Upper South, and coauthor of The National Geographic Almanac of American History. His articles have appeared in Smithsonian, Washington Post, Islands,and other publications, and his short stories have been published in Louisiana Literature, South Dakota Review, and many other literary journals. He has lived in t ...more

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