I think I’ve mentioned I like a story set in America that reveals a bit of history, yes? Well I was talking to a colleague the other day about other novels we may have hanging around the high school that I could use in my American Lit class.
He pulled Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns out of his cupboard and recommended it. After polling the lunch room, I may be the only person who has never read this book…or heard of it.
At first I didn’t know. It was an old, ugly copy that I was given and the title was dumb. But it was set at the turn of the 20th century in the South, and it was about a family and well, that is the combo I needed to sell me on reading it.
Like I said, the novel begins in 1906 in the small Southern town of Cold Sassy. The narrator, a young Will Tweedy who is 14 at the start of the story, tells about his family–specifically his grandfather, E. Rucker Blakeslee the owner of Cold Sassy’s general store who marries a Miss Love Simpson just three weeks after his first wife passes. This causes a ruckus not just in the family (Will’s mom and aunt are appalled that their father would marry before their dear mother’s body is even cold), but the town is in an uproar about how improper it all is.