Sunday, October 5, 2014

Cold Sassy Tree - Olive Ann Burns

This book, which is set in small-town Georgia, is one I feel like I have heard of for years and years, but I am not sure exactly why. I found it several years ago on the Library Sale shelves and picked it up for 50 cents, and then for some reason I let it sit until I finally added it as an alternate to the TBR Pile Challenge this year.

Sometimes stories about small-minded small-town people annoy me so much I am afraid I will actually sprain my eyes from rolling them while I'm reading. Being a U.S. Northerner I am also often baffled by Southern customs, etc., as they are not the way I was raised. Toss in the fact that this book is set in 1906, when customs all over the U.S. (and the world!) were vastly different than they are today in many ways, and you have a perfect storm for a real eye-rolling festival.

I wanted to be my usual cranky Northern self while I read this book, and to be sure there were many, many things that gave my optic muscles a good work out from sheer exasperated eye rolling, but I was only able to be cranky about half the time I was reading. The crankier part of me was constantly bothered by the tiresome old fashioned nonsense, including classism and racism and the dreaded "what will people say/think!!!!" etc., which was common for the time period, while the other, more reasonable  half grasped that this book is about how such things change over time, and was interested to see how it all turned out.

Something I found realistic about this book is that all the characters were multi-dimensional; each and every one did things that surprised me during the book, and each and every one had good points and sides that I liked, and bad points and sides I disliked, just like people in real life. There were no one-note characters here - everyone had realistic and complex reasons for their behavior. That was a real asset to the book.

All in all this was an enjoyable look at a year or so in the life of a town from a time and place I can't hope to truly understand, but I didn't mind visiting.

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