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Feather Crowns

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  631 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
Set in the apocalyptic atmosphere of the turn of this century, this engaging novel by the author of In Country tells the story of a young farm wife, living in rural Kentucky, who unintentionally creates a national sensation when she gives birth to the first recorded set of quintuplets in North America.
Paperback, 464 pages
Published June 3rd 1994 by Harper Perennial (first published September 1st 1993)
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Karyl
Oct 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've always been fascinated by multiple births, as it's such an uncommon event (though it's becoming a bit more common with the rise of fertility treatments). I remember the furor over "Octomom" and her octuplets, and I did agree that asking a human body to carry so many babies is probably not a fair, or even healthy, thing. So as I read this book, about a young woman Christie Wheeler who carried a set of quintuplets to term and gave birth to them in 1900, I began to wonder if this could really ...more
Amanda Fucello
Mar 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in less than a week, I thought it was so captivating. I love a little bit of magic in stories and Feather Crowns feels surreal in some aspects. While it is not as magical and fantastic as other tales, there are definitely elements of wonder woven into this family's story. I often strive to read female authors and I love getting different perspectives from different backgrounds and cultures, and though this is a thoroughly American story, the setting was still quite alien to me, ...more
Sandra Winkle
Mar 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book. It reminds me of the superstitions my grandmothers forewarned. Especially the ones related to me when I was pregnant. They told me all kinds of things I shouldn't do so I wouldn't "mark" my baby.(I must have done something right; my boys are all wonderful and beautiful)
Since I have twins, the multiple birth storyline was interesting. I really enjoy Bobbie Ann Mason's fiction.
Judy
Mar 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
I love Bobbie Ann Mason. She is a wonderful thoughtful author including much wisdom in her writing. The premise is based on the true incident of quintuplets being born in Kentucky in 1900. I highly recommend this book.
Carol Hardesty
Jun 08, 2011 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lori
Mar 26, 2010 rated it liked it
She is one of my favorite authors, especially in the short story form. Now that I live in SW Virginia I can actually relate more to her stories. That said, for me this story was too sad. I had hard time reading it as I felt it was a little too raw. I don't know how she comes up with her ideas! This story was about a family in this region of the country who had the first ever surviving quintuplets and how it not only drastically changes her life but that of her community. Well written a masterpie ...more
Cathy
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book ,an imaginative psychological interpretation of a true story of a woman who has given birth to quintuplets in the early 1900s.
Marla
Aug 03, 2008 rated it liked it
This book is astounding on many levels, not the least of which is that what you think is going to happen doesn't. Great characterization.
Kathleen
Jan 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I love everything I have read by Bobbie Ann Mason, and Feather Crowns is no exception. There is something very lyrical and mysterious here. The characters are very real people dealing with extraordinary events. I was very moved.
Lynn Pribus
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting novel based on the true story of a woman in the 19th century who gave birth to quintuplets (with a total weight of more than 20 pounds.)

In this one, Christie gives birth to five babies and is an immediate sensation. The train that passes nearby stops and people swarm up the hill and into her house -- even through the windows. This is a long book and the first 150 pages only cover the first week with a great deal of detail given to whose titties the babies are attached to. Not only
...more
Heather
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A loooong, vivid exploration of family, the effects of fame, the desire for knowledge. "They expected a woman to be weak. It made her angry when people judged others by their own limitations." I thought it was an impressive book.

A taste of the prose:
"Me, I always took an interest in things. I was always busy a-doing something and trying to find out something that nobody else would think to fool with. Partly it's just keeping ahold of your real self there inside, the same way you need to save o
...more
Amber Hayward
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful book full of emotion, great description of life in an earlier time, family struggles. I enjoyed sharing the lives of the characters, and was sorry when it ended. I would read other books by this auther.
Champaign Public Library
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: staff-recommends
Recommendation from the Historical Fiction Genre Study, August 2017.

Is it 1900 and the times are turbulent. Americans are looking for signs of the end of the world as the century turns. At the center of the story is Christianna Wheeler who fears that her pregnancy is a sign of the apocalypse.
Pipistrelle
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The first time I read this, it was on Chapter A Day on public radio, and I couldn't wait for the next chapters, so I ran out and bought it. I was not disappointed.
Karen
May 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, reviewed
Christie Wheeler is carrying quintuplets, only she doesn’t know it. It’s the turn of the last century and medical science isn’t exactly sophisticated enough for an ultrasound yet. All she knows is there’s something inside her – maybe a monster, or a demon, but definitely not a baby. But after she miraculously gives birth to five healthy, if tiny, babies inside her rural Kentucky home, she discovers that her pregnancy is just the beginning. She, the new babies, and the rest of her extended family ...more
Judith
Oct 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
These days it is almost common to hear of the birth of quintuplets. But in 1900 such an event was literally unheard of. Thus Bobbie Ann Mason imagines it, surrounds the birth with the life of a struggling tobacco farmer in Kentucky, fits it out with superstitions, family conflicts, and the customs of the day. Yet she creates in the mother, Christianna Wheeler ("Christie"), ultimately a strong woman.

When Christie met her husband-to-be, James, she was over the moon. She was in love, in lust, and h
...more
Anesa
Jan 14, 2014 rated it liked it
This ambitiously historical novel differs from Mason's other books. Although the geographical setting is, again, rural Kentucky, her cast of down-home folks is transposed from the K-Marts of 1988 to "the apocalyptic atmosphere of 1900" (as the book jacket puts it). So the characters of FEATHER CROWNS might be the ancestors to those of Mason's other fiction, a thought that I enjoyed recalling in the course of reading.

Those who enjoy period details and forays into social history will be in their e
...more
Roberto
Jun 05, 2008 rated it liked it
The curious title of this novel refers to an American superstition that concerns crown of feathers found in pillows stuffing which is considered an ill omen. I never heard about this superstition or others which are mentioned in this novel that tells the story of a 1900 humble family who were blessed (?) with quintuplets. I liked the way the author created the characters who were immersed in so many superstition concerning ill omens and the coming of Doomsday since they lived at the turn-of-the- ...more
Laura
Jun 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
This was a long read and it took me a while to get into it, but I did enjoy it in the end. I always like reading books that are set in the south and have lately been enjoying period pieces as well, so this came at a good time. I still harbor some doubts about the possibility of a woman giving birth to five full-term babies at once; medically I just don't see that happening. (I won't even get into the odds against two sets of naturally-occurring quintuplets.)

***MILD SPOILER***

I also wasn't expec
...more
Niki
Sep 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book was fictional about a 1900 family who had the first set of quintuplets and the stir it causes. It was an interesting portrait of Kentucky at the turn of the century. People treated the family like they were a spectacle and the events surrounding their birth were filled with superstition and mystery.

After reading the book, I felt like it was slow moving and the author could have condesed the story considerably. I am glad that I read the book, it was for a book club. We had a great disc
...more
Iamshadow
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I read this book back in 1998 when I was sixteen, thinking based the catalogue entry at the university library I borrowed it from that it was about the Dionne quintuplets. While there is a reference to the Dionnes at the very end, most of the story is about a completely different fictional family and community, and as a result, I was left a bit baffled and disappointed. I don't know now, fifteen years later, if that was due to my false expectations, or if the story was lacking. I'd like to read ...more
Kyra
Apr 19, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a big fat slow moving book and may not be everyone's cup of tea. It tells the story of Christianne Wheeler, who gave birth to live quintuplets in 1900 in a small town in Kentucky, and the subsequent hoopla attending the event.
More than anything else, this novel reminded me of the importance of family - that in the days before television and easy transportation, families were bound together by proximity and habit and the minutiae of day to day life in a way that most of us cannot even ima
...more
Lisa
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It’s Kentucky and the year is 1900. Christianna Wheeler, a pregnant, young farm wife gives birth very unexpectedly to the country’s first quintuplets. It would be criminal to give too much of this fascinating, wonderfully written story away. So I won’t. Suffice it to say that this is historical fiction at its best, based on actual events. Bobbie Ann Mason was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for this novel. I found it riveting, haunting and beautifully imagined.
Cindy
Sep 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: kim, michelle, karen, joy
Christianna Wheeler found herself in the middle of an "earthquake" by giving birth to quints in her little Kentucky town long before the advent of fertility drugs. Her saga is compelling. Her thoughts and actions prove her to be intelligent, compassionate, and complex. I like that a "simple" farm woman can be overwhelmed at times but not defeated. Great writing, great read, well worth the time.
Nedda
Sep 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Hard to imagine having quintuplets in the 21st century, unfathomable to think about it happening in 1900. Of course, the miraculousness of it at the time is the whole point of the book.

I really enjoyed this book until the last chapter, which is told as a recollection from the main character, many years later. It just didn't seem to go with the rest, and left me liking the book a little less.
Jan
Sep 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
A young Kentucky farm wife, already the mother of three, gives birth to five live babies in 1900. The first set of quintuplets in North America are big news, put their small town on the map, so to speak, and everybody wanted a piece of the them. A beautifully told story, complete with very complex characters, precise details, occasional dark humor, many supersitions and ill omens so common at the turn of the century.
Kath
Jul 25, 2010 rated it liked it
An ok book on a topic in which I am not very interested. It is a "memoir" [style only, it is a novel:] of the mother of quintuplets born in Kentucky in 1900. As a story of the farm-life at the turn of the century, too much time is spent on these babies. Taking care of the babies is not interesting enough for 250 pages. Then the book goes on for 200 more pages, attempting to tell how the birth affects the community.
Audrey Graser
Dec 28, 2009 rated it liked it
In Feather Crowns, Mason creates a wide array of believable, complex characters that work to drive the plot. The story is interesting and caught my attention immediately, as was the backstories into the past with Christianna and the religious revivals in the turn of the century. However, as much as I enjoyed the characters and the plot, this book seemed to drag on forever and there was a great deal I felt could have been cut out without much detriment to the story.
Emily Peck
Jan 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Samantha
A very interesting and enlightening book. It is set through 4 crucial points in one womens life. This book contains all the prominent moments of life including birth, sex, marriage, and death. It also offers an intersting perspective of human greed and ignorance. At times you may even question if this story is true or not as it seems so possible. It is a touching story and highly recommended.
Thea Block
Jan 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
I did not enjoy the majority of this book. It moved slow, which I can handle in some books, but this book never picked up the pace. I felt like the story lacked a good arc, and I finished the book feeling less than satisfied. I did appreciate the end of the story - the connections that Christie Wheeler makes with other families, but other than that, I would not recommend this book.
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Bobbie Ann Mason has won the PEN/Hemingway Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the American Book Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her books include In Country and Feather Crowns. She lives in Kentucky.
More about Bobbie Ann Mason

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