"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Sunday, May 9, 2010

On Agate Hill by Lee Smith

This is what 13 year old Molly Petree is doing when we meet her in 1872...living in a house filled with the ghosts of her dead family. Having lost her father and brothers in the Civil War, and her mother a few years later, Molly is left to live with her aunt Fannie and Uncle Junius. Well, after her Aunt Fannie's death during childbirth, her Uncle Junius goes into a deep state of depression, and gets very ill. Not in his normal state of mind anymore, he marries the housekeeper, and drives away his sister who has come to help. Then, upon his death, Molly is left to live with her new step-aunt Sabrina and her children...that is until a mysterious man takes her from Agate Hill, and enrolls her in Gatewood Academy School for Girls.

From there we follow Molly's life... through her four years at Gatewood, teaching at a small mountain-top school, runnin off and gettin married, the heartache of not being able to have children, a horrible fire and mysterious death, learning who the stranger that took her away from Agate Hill all those years ago really is, and why he's never let Molly very far out of his sight, and finally, old age. Molly's story is told through diary entries, court documents, and letters to a dear friend, which I really liked. It gives the story a personal feel.

Overall, I just loved this book, and I absolutely recommend it. This is one of those books that you just hate to put down, and while only a couple parts here and there were slow-going, I looked forward to reading this every chance that I got. This was my first time reading Ms. Smith but it sure won't be my last. Molly's story was so vivid and real that I had to keep telling myself it was a fiction novel.