Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cold Sassy Tree - Olive Ann Burns

Cold Sassy Tree
By: Olive Ann Burns
Published: 1984
Audiobook Read by: Tom Parker
My rating: Wonderful

Boy howdy was this a great book! Here again is one of the random selections off the shelf that turned out to be a real gem! I am so glad I got this one!

Apparently 1906 in Cold Sassy Tree, Georgia just isn't exciting enough so Will Tweedy's grandpa, Rucker Blakeslee, decides to spice things up with a good scandal. Throughout Will's 14th year the town is rocked by scandals, death, near death, love and suicide. I know this sounds like it might be a bit grim but this really is a delightful book. Will is just becoming a man and as he watches his grandpa, he learns a lot of valuable lessons.

Rucker shows the town that he doesn't give a hoot about their traditions and unwritten rules. Bringing Miss Love into the family was bad enough but when Rucker decides to hold Sunday morning preaching in his parlor, with himself as the preacher no less, it's just unheard of! When the neighbors hear Miss Love playing Ta Ra Ra Boom De Ay on a Sunday well I tell you, it is altogether too much for the folks of Cold Sassy to bear! Will is all too willing to be a conspirator in most of his Grandpa's shenanigans but even he is shocked by some of the lengths Rucker seems to go to, to get a rise. Will's love for his Grandpa knows no bounds and he tries his best to make sense of what is happening. In the end he realizes that Grandpa wasn't trying to stir up trouble but really believes in what he's doing. Everyone learns lessons from him in the end and the town is a better place for it.

I loved Rucker's outlook on the Bible and Christianity. He has such a simple way of looking at things and his interpretations of Jesus'  teachings might seem a little odd but when you think about it, Rucker makes a lot of sense. I sometimes think that we all need to forget all of our "fancy learnin'" and read the Bible as Rucker does, with a simple mind that takes it at face value. Jesus loves us and that's what matters, we need to quit trying to turn simple answers into a complex lectures!

In the mean time, Will is struggling with his own battles. Besides trying to keep peace between his Grandpa and the rest of the family, he struggles to understand his own change from boy to man. He learns that even though he absolutely hates his aunt, she has feelings too and there are lines that shouldn't be crossed. He faces the prospect of falling in love and not being able to act on it. Love leaves him reeling when it is stolen away from him and leaves him filled with regrets. He grapples with loss and tries to be strong through it all. As he and his family struggle to make sense of things, he learns a lot about everyone, being surprised to find allies in enemies and friends in unlikely places.

I love the way Olive wrote this book. Narrated by Will in his own words it has an innocent and touching quality. Will and his Grandpa can keep you in stitches the way they carry on. I felt like I was there with the family at the railway station as Grandpa's new car rolled in. I felt Will's excitement at being behind the wheel. I felt the love that bound them all together and I mourned with them as death visits them. This book flowed smoothly through the most eventful and unforgettable year of Will's life.

I listened to the audiobook read by Tom Parker. Tom is phenomenal! He did such a great job recreating the drawl of the common folks of the Old South that I found myself starting to talk that way as well, by the time I finished! He conveyed each mood perfectly, giving the emotions just the right amount of emphasis to make it feel totally real. I hope that I will have the chance to hear more of his work!

Overall this has been a wonderful book to listen to and I highly recommend it!

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy folksy books and I also enjoy a reverent change on the good old Bible stories. Sometimes they do seem more real and able to put in practice when simplified.

    I can't grast audio books. I got to have that wonderful smelly (gritty?) book in my hands.