From Publishers Weekly
In Bryant's debut, middle-aged Junior Leaguer Roxanne Reeves throws herself into directing Clarksville, Miss.'s 2002 Pilgrimage Tour of Antebellum Homes and develops, with more trepidation (and community resistance), an African-American Historical Tour. Guiltily admitting to her ignorance of local black history, she asks 89-year-old Grace Clark, a retired African-American school teacher, to consult. Grace takes Roxanne to a part of town known as Catfish Alley; once the lively home of a hotel where Louis Armstrong played, the area is now dotted with warehouses like the one owned by Del Tanner, son of a notorious racist. Unbeknownst to Tanner, his warehouse once housed the first school for black children (and he's not happy when he learns about it). In particular, Grace remembers 1919, when she went to that school for the first time with her brother "Zero," and 1931, when Tanner's father lynched Zero and raped his girlfriend, Adelle, who became the first black nurse at Clarksville Hospital. Though Bryant's approach to narrative is perfunctory, her tale will appeal to readers who enjoyed The Help. The author accesses her own tumultuous Southern history to lend her enchanting tale much local color. (Apr.)
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"Beautifully written and extremely poetic... full of tales of courage and endurance that may bring you to tears with their intensity, this is not a novel you'll soon forget."
-RT Book Reviews
, 4 and1/2 stars--TOP PICK
"A tender, wise, unique story of life, love, and southern women, crafted by a skilled writer who understands the struggle to find happiness and the healing power of friendship."
-Lisa Wingate, author of Beyond Summer
and Larkspur Cove
"In the tradition of The Help
, Lynne Bryant's Catfish Alley
tackles the racial divide of both 1920s and current-day Mississippi in a page- turning narrative that has, at its heart, the search for personal connections as the path to both survival and understanding."
-Lalita Tademy, author of Cane River
is a bittersweet love song to the union of women, and a heartfelt meditation on the old and new wounds of a South that still must tiptoe, still doesn't always know how to move forward, but is determined to try. Lynne Bryant writes honorably and earnestly about women facing each other and themselves."
-Barbara O'Neal, How to Bake a Perfect Life
"Catfish Alley is Lynne Bryant's first novel -- and in reading it, I feel as if I've stumbled on a rare gem! ...an extremely captivating story that unfolds and will keep you hooked until the very last page."
-Dreamworld Book Reviews
"Catfish Alley brims with humor and pathos in equal parts, with realistic, three-dimensional characters sure to delight and intrigue from the start. Of all the novels set in the South, Lynne Bryant’s debut novel deserves an honored place on any bookshelf."
-Rhett DeVane, Southern Literary Review