Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2010:Bloodrootis that rare sort of family saga that feels intimate instead of epic. Set in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, it’s told largely in tandem voices that keep watchful eyes on Myra Lamb. She is … see full wiki
The bloodroot is a flower that has the capacity to both heal and poison. The same could be said of one of the story's most memorable characters, Myra. Myra lives on Bloodroot Mountain, and it is clear that the mountain also lives IN her, as she never rests easy when she is away from it. Myra and other women in her family tree are said to have mystical powers. In her family and on the mountain in general, these powers have been used for good. But, when it comes to the men in her life, something about Myra not only mesmerizes them but destroys them.
This story, told by several characters and about several generations of families on and around Bloodroot Mountain, is incredibly rich and detailed. I had no problem at all being pulled into the story or staying interested in it. It is, however, not a happy story. There are moments of happiness, but they are far outweighed by sadness, violence, poverty and madness. It reminded me at times of the books I read during the first year of Oprah's Book Club; books that were well written and impactful but weighed me down with sadness during and after reading them.
Because the story is told by multiple characters in different generations, events weren't always happening in the same timeline; as a result, I sometimes had trouble keeping clear about the order in which various events happened. This is one of the main reasons I'm giving the book 4 stars instead of 5.
This book reminded me somewhat of The Help by Kathryn Stockett, my favorite fiction of 2009. They both take place in the past and are written from multiple perspectives. Both authors live in the area about which they are writing, so they know not only the landmarks but the lingo and the personality of the area. Both stories contain sadness and violence. I don't know that Bloodroot will be my favorite fiction of 2010, but I do believe it will be toward the top of that list.