IN THE GARDEN OF STONE ~Susan Tekulve
IN THE GARDEN OF STONE is one of the nicest reads I have had in a long time. It is just full of the most wonderful details of nature, and my mind was able to bring me right to the path and let me integrate the experience like a refreshing walk; a little vacation, which slowed my pace and refreshed my spirit.
I was experiencing a tremendous windstorm which was transitioning the chill of spring into the heat of summer when I sat down to read this saga about an Italian immigrant’s family working the coal mines and living in a company shanty town called WAR. The first and second generations were living in the dark and could not see another way, and they condemned those that tried and then returned. They seemed to hope for the same life that they were experiencing right down to the plain un-nourishing food they were eating. When in 1924 a young railroad man discovers a miner’s daughter, age 16, who is capable of learning to dream. They are wed and move away to build a house/home and a magnificent garden as the ones which were built in ancient Italy. The man, who went to Italy and became a stone mason, has a dream and a good heart.
The son is the connecting bond to all the other stories of all the characters of this saga which carries the reader to 1973 and the expectation of a great-grandchild. Each chapter focuses on a period of time and individuals which will make the story move forward. The characters are so well developed as though they were the focal point of a short story, and then they disappear and reappear in the next stories/chapters to complete the picture. The characters are so crucial to the evolution of this family saga and how they integrate finally into their new culture and society. Many are still stuck in the old ways today, afraid to come out of the mines and we definitely understand how love and a “strong hand” can guide one up and out of the dark places individuals reside.
Susan Tekulve teaches writing at Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina and her novel IN THE GARDEN OF STONE makes a fine contribution to Southern literature. Her writing style is gentle and deep; she is not afraid to expose the painful pivotal moments of life. I know I will read this book again.
You ‘all, I can just see you in the garden, with a cool drink in hand, and flowers on the air enjoying this book in the summer heat while wandering the hills of Virginia with the folks in this story. Am I right or am I right?
I received a proof copy of this book from TLC online book tours and HUB CITY Press. It is a lovely, lazy summer afternoon read and I am so pleased to have been given the opportunity to read this story. It is the winner of the South Carolina First Novel Prize. The publishers are offering a giveaway of IN THE GARDEN OF STONE to a commenter on this blog site or Facebook.
Related Reading: Under the Recommended Reading tab are many books I have reviewed and which you might also enjoy reading.
The Paper Garden
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
The Clover House
The Bequest of Big Daddy