I read Ron Rash’s first novel One Foot in Eden with or my Skype book club a couple of weeks ago. As a group we loved it.
Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:
Will Alexander is the sheriff in a small town in southern Appalachia, and he knows that the local thug Holland Winchester has been murdered. The only thing is the sheriff can find neither the body nor someone to attest to the killing. Simply, almost elementally told through the voices of the sheriff, a local farmer, his beautiful wife, their son, and the sheriff’s deputy, One Foot in Eden signals the bellwether arrival of one the most mature and distinctive voices in southern literature.
The characters were fleshed out and even the villain of the piece, Holland, is drawn sympathetically. But, I think we all agree, it’s hard to tell who is the villain in this tale. All of the characters are drawn in shades of gray. They are all people who suffer tragedies in their lives and respond to those tragedies in ways that are real.
We all read the book just before our meeting and had not, really, had a chance to digest the story. We spent a lot of time working through our feelings about Holland and Amy. And how we felt about the actions of the Sheriff and of Billy. We spent less time talking about Amy and Billy’s son,Isaac, and I’m not sure why. He had to “clean up” Amy and Billy’s mess before he became an adult, and his heartbreak is compelling.
And we spent a lot of time discussing the effect of modernization had on Appalachia. The loss of culture in many ways outweighs the benefits. I spent a lot of time this week thinking about how those families were displaced, moved to small towns to work in textile mills, and now those mills are gone. It is heartbreaking. In fact, I have been thinking about this book a lot over the last two weeks. It is haunting.
If you are a fan of Southern Gothic literature, be sure to put this one on your list. My Skype book club heartily recommends it.
Do you like Southern Gothic fiction? Would you read this novel? Let me know in the comments!