Over the Plain Houses
It is unbelievable that this is a first novel. The quality of the writing is haunting and believable at the same time. The natural world surrounding these people in the Appalachians in 1939 is depicted so beautifully it can take your breath away. The dissolution of the marriage between Irenie and Brodis is also r ...more
And the imagery is superb, grounded in the setting's rural feel: lush, ethereal, and pregnant with unspoken thoughts. It perfectly captures the main characters' bucolic lives and attitudes. I cannot recommend this book enough.
I read a fascinating OpEd piece by the author in the NY Times last week which made me curious about her other published work. Like many Americans, I am puzzled by the culture wars raging during this election season, and the attitudes of disenfranchised Southerners and Appalachians in particular. Reviews of "Over the Plain Houses" indicated a dark and brooding novel with themes of religion, superstition, intol ...more
I thought that Brodis' descent into madness was also really believable; sometimes that sort of thing can be too quick or just boring-like listening to someone tell you their dreams-but she doe ...more
Some of the reviewers dnf'ed it, claiming they couldn't get "into it" and "nothing happens." I always wonder what it is those readers are looking for. This is historical fiction set in 1939 in a poor rural mountain community in the Carolinas. There's no tv, no radio - no excitement. Just the same 50 or so people day in, day out. Working to ...more
"Her husband was still, a man who was never in a rush. He was preaching in three churches each month now, with tent revivals and camp meetings in the summer, and there were those who came specific to hear him. But a strange ...more
Deep in Appalachian North Carolina, bound by the chains of the Great Depression, Irenie Lambey is a paradox of a woman. Fiercely independent and wildly strong, she finds herself completely tamed by her husband and her community, voiceless and afraid and aching to be free.
Though she may be undereducated, Irenie is full of native intelligence and insight. She sees the incongruity between her core sense of self and the woman she has become, ...more
When a USDA agent comes to call on a small village in the mountains of North Carolina, the wife of the local preacher seizes on a chance for their gifted son to receive a better education at a school in the city. That's the gist of Julia Franks' Over the Plain Houses, but the novel reaches beyond this straightforward premise to cover one woman's struggle for independence in Depression-era Appalachia.
Brodis Lambey is a late-in-life fundamentalist preacher who demands absolute obedience from his w...more