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Mourning Dove

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  281 ratings  ·  84 reviews
"An accurate and heart-wrenching picture of the sensibilities of the American South." Kirkus Book Reviews

The heart has a home when it has an ally.

If Millie Crossan doesn't know anything else, she knows this one truth simply because her brother Finley grew up beside her. Charismatic Finley, eighteen months her senior, becomes Millie's guide when their mother Posey leaves t
Paperback, 234 pages
Published June 29th 2018 by Firefly Southern Fiction
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mourning Dove is a beautifully-told southern story. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

It’s the 1970s. Millie and her brother Finley are eighteen months apart, and he’s her rock. When Millie is ten, Posey, their mother, leaves their alcoholic father and moves from Minnesota to Tennessee, where Posey is was raised.

Memphis might as well be a foreign country to Finley and Millie. They are different from everyone else and on the outside looking in. Luckily they have each other, but that’s about all they have.

When Po
Claire Fullerton
May 27, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: favorite-books
I'll take the opportunity to share why I wrote Mourning Dove. Plain and simply, I grew up in Memphis, in an era that I think was run by the last of the great Southern belles. Most of them are gone from the South, now, as am I, for I now live in Malibu, California. I have a conflicted relationship with the South. It's a strange mixture of gratitude for having outgrown it and weepy nostalgia for the place in which I came of age. I can't say if I'm nostalgic for the actual place or if it's nostalg ...more
Susan Cushman
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How fun it was for me to read Claire Fullerton’s wonderful new novel, set in the social milieu of the Memphis Junior League, the Garden Club, the Memphis Country Club, and the city’s most elite private schools in the 1980s. I actually lived just a neighborhood away from the house where Camille (Millie) and Finley Crossan grew up, but my kids went to public schools in the late 1980s and 1990s, and we weren’t part of the upper echelon of the social fabric of Memphis. But I knew about it. And Fulle ...more
Cathy Ryan
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Born in Minnesota, and spending their formative years there, ten-year old Mille Crossan and her older brother Finley were uprooted and moved to Memphis. Posey Crossan, their mother, had made the decision, without any warning, to leave Minnesota and her alcoholic husband and return to the world she knew. She slid back into the glittering and genteel Memphis way of life as though she had never been away. Millie and Finley found the transition hard, they missed their father and never stopped lo
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mourning Dove is deep thinking, rhythmic and evocative. Millie is our narrator, and the story is a reflective bildungsroman of her youth. At the age of ten, Millie and her older brother Finley move to Memphis with their mother after she leaves their father in Minnesota. The Memphis of the 1970’s is sophisticated, rich and teetering with modern intellectualism. The house that they move to on Kensington—rife with their mother’s social circle and a despotic step father—is perhaps the hot bed into w ...more
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern-fiction
The Deep South in the 70s with its unwritten rules and slow moving life is beautifully written about in MOURNING DOVE. The story is told in that languid, slow and relaxed pace that life in the upper echelons of Memphis society occupied during this time.

When Posey realized that her marriage to her northern husband was over, she took her two children (Finley and Millie) from their home in Minnesota and moved them to her childhood home in Memphis where she immediately re-claimed her place as part
Claire Fullerton's melodious Memphis drawl will lure you right into her setting for this Southern novel. I listened to the audio but will be purchasing a paper copy because I need to hold it in my hands and mark the words of wisdom Fullerton drops so effortlessly into every page. Her descriptions drip with the nuances of the South in a post-Civil Rights era and resonate for today. Millie is our narrator but this story belongs to Finley, her brother, who more than anyone else taught her to find h ...more
Carolyn Breckinridge
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
'Mourning Dove' by author Claire Fullerton is not an easy read because it tackles very-real life problems, specifically those created by parental substance abuse. While it's true this novel also successfully captures strong social dictates followed by what has been known as genteel families in the Old South, and actually to some extent, rules that still apply within some families in the South today, it is parental alcoholism that drives this book from start to finish. The story is told through t ...more
Linda Zagon
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Claire Fullerton, Author of “Mourning Dove” has written an intense, emotional, intriguing, captivating, thought-provoking novel. The Genres for this novel are Fiction, and Women’s Fiction. The timeline of the story is mostly in the 1970’s, and goes to the past or future when it pertains to the characters or events in the story. The author describes her unique characters as complex and complicated, possibly due to the circumstances describes.

After a divorce, the Crossan family makes a difficult m
Michelle Cox
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Claire Fullerton’s Mourning Dove is an exquisite coming-of-age tale set against the backdrop of Memphis, circa 1970. With her haunting, lyrical prose, Fullerton immediately and effortlessly transports the reader south of the Mason-Dixon Line from the very first sentence.

Fullerton superbly spins the tale of a brother and sister, Finley and Millie Crossan, who are forced, due to their father’s alcoholism, to leave their rather relaxed existence in the woods of Minnesota and take up refuge with th
Fiction Aficionado
Aug 24, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a deeply evocative novel and beautifully written, and yet I’m still sitting here trying to sort out exactly how I feel about the story itself. Narrated by Millie Crossan in the first-person, the story takes the form of a memoir—although the further I got into the story, the easier it was to forget this until the odd sentence cropped up reminding me that the narrator is actually looking back at her life rather than living it as it’s narrated. And yet by the end of the novel, I felt as th ...more
Ellen Comeskey
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of Mourning Dove. I couldn't put it down. This book is beautifully and soulfully written, reminiscent in style of my favorite authors Pat Conroy and Anne Rivers Siddons. In a lyrical, Southern tone that lulled me into a gorgeous sense of place, Mourning Dove is set in Memphis, an historically preserved, musical town on the bluffs of the Mississippi River. Main characters Millie and Finley Crossan were born in Minnesota but grew up in Memphis. The sibling ...more
Suzie Waltner
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars

You guys, book FOMO (fear of missing out) is a thing! And books like Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton only feeds that FOMO. Fullerton is a new-to-me author, but boy, oh boy, did she make a big and lasting impression!

Readers are taken through a tumultuous childhood through Millie Crossan. While things started out almost idyllic for this young lady in Minnesota, times changed. Situations and poor choices from others around her upend young Millie’s sense of security. And when the family t
Vivian Payton
Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Claire Fullerton writes about southern living in Memphis, TN in the 1970’s and 80’s in her novel, MOURNING DOVE. Her children, Finley and Millie Crossan, move with their Mother, Posey, to Memphis from Minnesota to escape her alcoholic husband after she divorces him and to inherit the childhood home she grew up in. The story is written in the first person by Millie who has a fascination for her brother. She looks up to him, she’s very close to him and loves him. Posey is a true southern belle who ...more
Margaret Evans
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Set against the backdrop of a complicated 1970s South – one both forward-looking and still in love with the past – and seen through the eyes of a Minnesota girl struggling to flourish in Memphis society, ‘Mourning Dove’ is the story of two unforgettable siblings with a bond so strong even death can’t break it. Claire Fullerton has given us a wise, relatable narrator in Millie. Like a trusted friend, she guides us through the confounding tale of her dazzling brother Finley, their beguiling mother ...more
Susan Peterson
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There were so many things that I found fascinating about this thought-provoking, compelling, and intelligent book. First, there was the relationship that was the heart and the the backbone of this story, the complicated and honest relationship between Millie and her brother Finley. Then, there was the setting...Memphis in the 1970s, particularly among the elite...the genteel south that seemed to cling to its traditions as the world changed around it. It seemed as if I’d stepped into a place that ...more
Bren McClain
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Claire Fullerton knows how to get a voice going. I'm talking distinctive, authoritative, original as all get out. Narrator Millie Crossan will grab you by your high-ball-holding hand and set you down in privileged Memphis with her family and not let you go. Get ready for the Crossan layers to be peeled back and universal struggles exposed.
Jaymi The OC Book Girl
This book took my breath away with its beautiful and emotional story of a family living in Memphis, TN in the early 70s. Millie and her older brother Finley are inseparable and she adores him.

On the second page we're told something about the ending, so right away there's tension as we watch the story unfold.

Millie has a kind of hero worship for her brother. He explains things to her, includes her, protects her and they have a close bond.

"In the dense woods surrounding our house, we built tree
Emily Yager
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: southern-fiction
It is such a beautifully written story. Not the usual story with a beginning, middle, and end with a well defined plot, nut more of a memoir style. It's a dramatic family saga type as it follows Millie's family and the Southern culture of the time, as told by Millie's POV as she struggles to adjust to her new way of life with the Southern Genteel and their unwritten rules. You are transported right into the middle of the opulent Southern culture and held there with the almost poetic writing styl ...more
Yolanda Smith
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished-in-2020
The writing in this books is spectacular. The author knows how to weave words into luscious sentences, and sentences into incredible ideas. Five stars for the writing.

The story itself was more of a struggle. The protagonist seems meant to be Millie, the narrator, but the actual story revolves more around Finley, her brother. Millie’s development sees very little growth, and it’s unclear what her actual resolution is. The story unfolded slowly, but felt rushed at the end. Three stars for the stor
Sally Cronin
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am not sure that anyone who is not born into the opulent, and long cultivated upper echelons of Southern culture, would be able to slip into its charming, but strictly adhered to rules of engagement easily. Especially when you are on the cusp of your teen years and brought up in the very different environment. As are Millie aged ten and her brother Finlay, who is eighteen months older.

"We had Minnesota accents, we were white as the driven snow, and we both had a painfully difficult time deciph
Carole Jarvis
Reviewed at The Power of Words:

“Haven’t you noticed the name of the game around here is what everybody thinks? You’re only as good as how others consider you.” - Finley

I love a “different” type of book when it is done well, and Claire Fullerton has achieved exactly that in Mourning Dove. Fullerton’s fresh voice, sense of place, and exquisite writing make this story shine. Creative storytelling reads somewhat like a memoir as life events cause the now grown Millie to reflec
Ronovan Hester
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mourning Dove isn’t just a book about family in the South. It’s about the reality of a family in the South. There are many dramatizations of what people believe life is like here in the Southern part of the US, but unless you lived it, you don’t know it. Claire Fullerton lived it. The author and I have had exchanges in the past about commonalities in our lives to the point that I know she is the real deal. She grew up a Memphis girl while I lived just 2 hours away in Tupelo, MS.
One thing about
Amie's Book Reviews
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
MOURNING DOVE is a work of Historical Fiction set in the American South. The version I read was an Audiobook narrated by the author.

Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton is a family saga. The book starts in the 1960s and follows the lives of Posey and her two children, Millie and Finley.

Posey grew up in Memphis, but left the South and lived in Minnesota. Returning to her childhood home is easy for Posey. She grew up immersed in the strange (at least it is strange if you did not grow up there) custo
Alice Gorman
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Claire Fullerton has written a riveting tale of southern family dynamics in the 1970’s that rings as true to time and place as magnolia blossoms in June. Once I began reading, I could not put it down. How rare it is to become immersed in the characters and care enough to want to know exactly what happens to them. Names like Shuggs and Posie are as familiar to the region as the Mississippi River. So are the complications and expectations of the era, the atmosphere of light social talk and heavy h ...more
Alison Henderson
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had the pleasure and the privilege of reading an ARC of this book. Rarely have I read anything with such a finely-tuned and perfectly detailed sense of time and place. The author depicts the cultural enormity of two young children's move from suburban Minneapolis to deeply Southern, Memphis high society at the most vulnerable time of their lives with clarity, heart, and remarkably observed detail. This is book club material all the way.
Emily Adams
Claire Fullerton's descriptions of Memphis from the 1960s and 70s are perfect and true. Her turns of phrases will resonate with me for some time to come.
Gary Fearon
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mourning Dove is a wise and brilliantly evocative Southern tale enhanced by Claire Fullerton's inimitable wit. You'll be glad you indulged in this eloquent exploration of colorful and complex family dynamics.
Louis Spirito
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In her moving novel Mourning Dove, Claire Fullerton borrows a page from Southern Gothic writers like Flanner O’Connor and Carson McCullers, giving us an insider’s look at a family’s bumpy return to their Southern roots. For Millie, the teen protagonist and narrator, compared to unrestrained Minnesota, 1970s Memphis is a minefield of genteel manners and unwritten protocol, where even minor missteps carry damning social consequences and the likelihood of a scolding or worse. Navigating these const ...more
May 18, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-recommended
Thank goodness I've finally finished this book. It's horrible, and it is definitely not Christian fiction.

I feel kind of betrayed because the publisher is a Christian publisher. When I signed up to be notified about their books, I was thrilled that I'd finally hear about good Christian books. I've read a large number of their books since signing up and have enjoyed them. A few weren't marketed as Christian, but they definitely were. That's why I got this one. I'll be more careful now.

If I were
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Claire Fullerton is the author of Little Tea, which is set in the Deep South and concerns female friendship, Southern culture, healing the past and the changing times of the racial divide. Little Tea is the 2020 Reader's Favorite Gold Medal winner in Southern Fiction, a Faulkner Society competition finalist, the August 2020 book club selection of the Pulpwood Queens book club, and now a 2020 semi- ...more

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“The Memphis Finley and I landed in was my mother’s Memphis. It was magnolia-lined and manicured, black-tailed and bow-tied. It glittered in illusory gold and tinkled in sing-song voices. It was cloistered, segregated, and well-appointed, the kind of place where everyone monogrammed their initials on everything from hand towels to silver because nothing mattered more than one’s family and to whom they were connected by lineage that traced through the fertile fields of the Mississippi Delta.” 2 likes
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