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Clay's Quilt

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  3,214 ratings  ·  294 reviews
After his mother is killed, four-year-old Clay Sizemore finds himself alone in a small Appalachian mining town. At first, unsure of Free Creek, he slowly learns to lean on its residents as family. There’s Aunt Easter, who is always filled with a sense of foreboding, bound to her faith above all; quiltmaking Uncle Paul; untamable Evangeline; and Alma, the fiddler whose song ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 26th 2002 by Ballantine Books (first published 2001)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,214 ratings  ·  294 reviews

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Angela M
4.5 stars
“There is a cool that sometimes comes down over the mountain in the evening. The day slips away slowly, so quietly and secretly that no one really notices until it is gone. The peach light stands like steam along the horizon, changing the shape of things. Night does not come quickly, does not even give a hint of its coming, and for a while, there is just the cool, when there is no night and no day, stretched out like ice”

Beautiful prose like this, that has me rereading sentences and pa
Elyse  Walters
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Clays Quilt”, was first published in 2001.
It’s the first book of a trilogy.... yet, from my understanding.. the books can be read in any order - each complete as a stand alone.
A Parchment of Leaves”, and
“The Coal Tattoo” are the other two books in the series.

I read - with total bliss - the absolutely wonderful novel, “Southernmost”, (a ‘standalone’), published in 2018), about a year ago... so I was excited to read another book by Silas House.

“Clay’s Quilt” was good- ( plenty good), but not
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the debut novel by Silas House.
Set in the Kentucky hills. Clay Sizemore is a young coal miner from a big family and small town. His mother died when he was only 4 yrs old and he was raised by his Aunt Easter amongst his uncles and cousins, and extended family in the holler.
Clay and his best friend Cake work hard and spend time at the local honky..they both want more out of life then working and partying.
He meets a young fiddler named Alma, who is separated from her abusive husband
”Dance a little closer to me, dance a little closer now
Dance a little closer tonight
Dance a little closer to me, hey it's closing time
And love's on sale tonight at this five and dime

“Rita was sixteen years, hazel eyes and chestnut hair
She really made the Woolworth counter shine
Eddie was a sweet romancer, and a darn good dancer
And they'd waltz the aisles of the five and dime...”

-- Love at the Five and Dime, Kathy Mattea, Songwriters: Nanci Griffith

”Clay knew that the mountains looked purple u
Lori Keeton

Right before I left home for college, my mom and I learned to make quilts together. She had always sewed things when I was a child like my Barbie doll clothes and curtains. What started out as something to do to spend time with my mom, turned into a lifelong love for both of us. I still have my very first quilt I ever made, a Nine Patch. She would go on and turn her love for making quilts into starting a business called Quilting Connection in our small eastern Kentucky hometown. For years she sh
Cathrine ☯️
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.75 ★

Saturated with House’s dreamy lush prose

"Their lovemaking was tangled and moist, like summer vines—a wild mess of arms and legs, warm skin against cool, Clay’s silver St. Christopher necklace mingling with Alma’s gold chain and small, plain cross. The room was thick with milky gray shadows, and the window was a silver square in the wall.”

and pages that transport the reader down country roads, to the mountains and music, to the love of family and home, in Appalachia.
Rebecca Brothers
Aug 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I just returned from a week-long nerd-summer-camp-dream called The Appalachian Writer’s Conference held the first week of August at the Hindman Settlement School in Hindman, KY. It was a-mazing.

I didn’t speak much with the star pupil to come out of this workshop, Silas House, but I watched him from a short distance over the week. He’s not a big man, but boy does he have an enormous voice, both on the page and out loud. He read from his latest work, a novel in letters between two young people, o
I began with Silas House's A Parchment of Leaves because it had won prizes for Southern writing:
*Winner of the Kentucky Novel of the Year, 2003
*Winner of the Award for Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers
*Nominee of the Southern Book Critics Circle Prize
*Nominee of the Book Sense Book of the Year Longlist
It had a strong impact on me. My overall impression was that it was beautiful. The writing was gorgeous and at the same time simple and expressive. It wonderfully captur
Kirk Smith
Jun 16, 2015 rated it liked it
A good writing style makes this coming of age story interesting and nice. It touched on the right notes, warmed my spirits among this nice Appalachian family, but failed to move me enough to be truly memorable. For most it would be a 4 if you're looking for a quiet read. Nice scenes of hiking the hills and admiring nature. This has a nice family feeling to it even acknowledging the bit of violent drama at its core. ...more
Shannon The Show Stopper
This is one of my top five all time favorite books. I've never read better written southerners than the characters Silas House has created. Not just Clay's Quilt but all of his books. The prose flows flawlessly and you feel like you are truly in the rural south. One of the best examples of Appalachian literature I've ever read. ...more
Kim Kaso
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the first published book in a series focused on Kentucky families, all loosely connected in a trilogy which can be read in any order.

I was first impressed with the voice of Silas House, it is lyrical without being consciously “writerly”, the words flow like music across the page, each character seems fully realized and we as readers can connect with them. House also uses music in most of the scenes, whether it is Clay playing cassette tapes on his way home from the mines, or various cha
Oct 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This Appalachian novel is the story of a young miner, Clay Sizemore, growing up in the hills of Kentucky. He's wild, but kind of heart, and early in the novel he falls hard for Alma, a gifted fiddler. They both have baggage: Alma is still married to an abusive husband, and in her family's Pentecostal religion, getting a divorce is taboo. Clay's life mirrors that of his mother Anneth, who lived a wild, free life until she was killed on a snowy mountain when Clay was only four. He loves his tight- ...more
Megan Adams
Jun 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: appalachia
Silas House continues to deliver in this novel which picks up where The Coal Tattoo left off in the telling of the stories of Anneth and Easter, by portraying of the lives of the Sizemore family in the Kentucky Mountains. I enjoyed reading the story which takes place in the early 1990s and explores the culture in compelling, yet realistic terms. House does not make light of the difficulties of living in the region, nor does he apologize for them. His prose is lyrical, and his celebration of the ...more
Jun 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
Just a very average read for me. It didn't engage me like Lee Smith's writing. (I bought the book, in part, based on Lee Smith's review.) The characters were underdeveloped as were most of their story lines so it was difficult to make an emotional connection with people or their histories. I kept reading thinking that the pieces of the story would stitch together like a quilt (yes, I got that part) but it never did. I think my disappointment was magnified because of all the good reviews I read b ...more
Brian Cubbage
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I worked at a bookstore in Louisville, Kentucky from 2002-2003, and during that year Silas House was a bestseller. I even got to meet him briefly, as he made more than one appearance at our store while I worked there. But I never read any of his books. I was in that time in my life when I still hoped to make it as a professional philosopher, and so I was putting away most fiction as something I wouldn't have time to read until at least tenure, if not retirement.

Well, the philosopher thing didn'
Kelsey Burnette
Wow. Silas House is officially on my list of favorite authors. This book is so beautifully written. If you love Appalachia--the mountains, culture, and people--you have to read this book. You should read it anyway, because the writing is so spectacular. It made me feel the way I felt the first time I read Eudora Welty's "Delta Wedding." Like I was reading a painting. The words so beautifully capture the characters, the place, the events. I think this book also appealed to me because it is about ...more
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Silas House has a marvelous connection with this area of Kentucky/ Appalachian Mountain area and its people. And he can convey it with lyrical language and precise personality characterization. I was generous and rounded this up to 4 star, because of this ability to convey the culture, the weather, the nature, the natives- the entire. But I did think the plot was less substantial than in his others of this family's history, especially Parchment of Leaves. It's probably me and not the book, becau ...more
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I bought this in 2001 (when it was published) and have just got around to reading it. Now I want to rush out and see what else he's written! It is beautifully descriptive of the mountains of eastern KY. He really captures the language well, too. Nice tempo, but don't be looking for a big denouement. Really just a lovely book. ...more
Jul 01, 2010 rated it liked it
I just couldn't really get into this book. The descriptions of the landscape were beautiful and evocative, but I just didn't love the characters, so I didn't find myself caring about how things would turn out for them. And then the ending was just kinda blah. So not a huge winner for me. ...more
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book reminded me a lot of Lee Smith's Black Mountain Breakdown. This is the first book I have read by House, and I plan to read many more. He is such a fresh voice in Appalachian fiction and I especially loved the Q&A at that back of the book. ...more
Sharon Holford
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing

I loved this story - great sadness and great joy. Wonderful characters with such life stories. The Appalachian setting always grabs me.
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is it about stories from the heart of Appalachia that tug at my heart. There seems to be underlying themes of history, stories, music and endless wisdom that draw me in. I love books about kinfolk and the longing for home.
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this a lot. The descriptions of music, dancing, and the mountain landscape make this worth reading.
Rick Buttafogo
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I fell in love with author Silas House when I read Southernmost. I decided to read some of his older books and started with the first first book in this series of three-Clay’s Quilt. Beautifully written and touching story. Once again showing the simple things in life are worth it. Quilting perhaps is something significant in Appalachia and/or Kentucky. What a great craft which surprisingly was a mans craft. The story of loss, love, family and friends always makes for a great read and this didn’t ...more
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is re-reading for me. I first read it in 2004 and it stayed with me to the point where I decided I must read it again. I didn't have a copy and FINALLY found it and decided I must have it.

Incredible novel about a Clay Sizemore growing to adulthood in Kentucky, living with his aunt and uncle after his mother is killed. There is so much love, friendship, music and spectacular storytelling the book is impossible to put down. House captures what it means to have people around you who love you,
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
I feel like a bad Kentuckian for not enjoying this book more, but I really tried to! The story wasn't bad, but I have to say I'm very surprised by the heaps of praise House got for the book. I loved the Appalachian voice, but the prose overall was so basic it almost felt like a book for younger readers. It very much felt like a first book in need of a better editor. I'll give some of his later work a try and hope that I enjoy it more - we need more authors who give nuanced portrayals of Appalach ...more
Apr 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Allan Barger, Joy Barger, James Kelly, Danielle Lewis
Shelves: 2009
Clay's Quilt is a stunningly beautiful and gripping novel about a young man who is searching for himself in the lives of his parents, his extended family, and the other other residents of the small Appalachia town where he was born and raised. The writing is lyrical. The characters are flawed, but true to each other and their values. It is a complex story that captures life in rural America without pity but with a good deal of compassion. Highly recommended. ...more
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Transports you to rural Kentucky with a wonderful voice!
Betsy Cornwell
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Welcome to the hill country of Kentucky. I have no experience with this culture but everything about this book feels authentic to me. I feel like I've been given a window into a rich and vibrant world full of music, family, mountains, and violence. I was especially interested in the women of the book. They are independent, intelligent, compassionate, and resilient. Even so, the men of the story treat them like property, to be claimed, defended and fought over. They can insist on shaping their ow ...more
I listened to the audible version. It is a good choice for short car rides, cleaning house or neighborhood walks because it’s easy to pick up and put down without loss to the story’s impact and is very relaxing both in tone and text. This book gives you a look into Appalachian culture, along with its stereotypes, and helps you see the beauty in it. It reminded me that the world needs all types. Just because some are different does not mean they are necessarily better or worse, just different. I ...more
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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

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“When Clay was little, newscasters boasted that the War on Poverty was being waged in those very mountains, but if the government had fought any battles close to Free Creek, no one in the holler heard the guns.” 1 likes
“Paul told him everything about quilting, things he would never remember, but he savored each word as if they were lost verses of Scripture.” 0 likes
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