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In the Garden of Stone Paperback – April 30, 2013

15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Tekulve's descriptions of the hard, cold, dirty coal camp life, above and below ground, are masterful ... (Her) great gift is to live in the hearts of her characters ... Lyrical, haunting fiction. --Kirkus, starred review

Beautifully written and absorbing. --Library Journal, "Spring Pick, 2013"

There is always a quiet peace that descends when I read Susan Tekulve. These still waters, they run mighty deep. --Robert Olmstead, author of The Coldest Night

About the Author

Susan Tekulve's nonfiction, short stories, and essays have appeared in journals including Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, Georgia Review, Connecticut Review, and Shenandoah. Her story collection My Mother's War Stories received the 2004 Winnow Press fiction prize. Also author of the story collection Savage Pilgrims (Serving House Books, 2009), she has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers' Conference and the Bread Loaf Writers'
Conference. She teaches writing at Converse College.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Hub City Press (April 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1891885219
  • ISBN-13: 978-1891885211
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #731,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susan Tekulve's nonfiction, short stories and essays have appeared in journals such as Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, The Georgia Review, Connecticut Review, and Shenandoah. Her story collection, My Mother"s War Stories, received the 2004 Winnow Press fiction prize. Author of Savage Pilgrims, a story collection (Serving House Books, 2009), she has received scholarships from the the Sewanee Writers' Conference and Bread Loaf Writers' Conference Scholarship and teaches writing at Converse College.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Hemingway Surfer on April 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
I couldn't put this book down. Beautiful, lyrical writing and wonderful characters. The descriptions of the mountains, streams and valleys of the Appalachian setting are worth the cost of the book. I kept thinking about these characters and their stories long after I'd finished the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ti on June 6, 2013
Format: Paperback
The story begins in War, West Virginia and spans from 1924 to the 70′s. After a rail accident buries her home in coal, sixteen-year-old Emma is rescued by a railroad man by the name of Caleb. Shortly thereafter, the two marry and begin their life together. Caleb is a good man but prone to dreaming and when he dreams up a garden to rival that of any found in Sicily, Emma has her doubts but she goes along with it. When tragedy strikes and Emma is left to fend for herself, what we are given is only a brief glimpse of what is to come. Told in alternating chapters and ending with Emma's granddaughter, Hannah, this is a family saga that began strong but left me wanting more.

Emma's story was the most appealing to me. I wanted to know more about her and Caleb but when it jumped to her son Dean as an adult, I began to lose interest. Dean was not likable and his marriage to Sadie and her eventual decline in health, made me not like him even more. And when the story ended with Hannah, his daughter, I found myself even less interested. From the strong beginning, I had high hopes for this one. In the end, I enjoyed the book but not as much as I had hoped.

Had this story stuck with Emma and Caleb I think I would have liked it more. The dreamy, fantastical part of Caleb was particularly interesting against Emma's more sensible nature. What these characters all share is a sense of longing. The type that can never be fulfilled. They seem to struggle with happiness. Both what it is and how to achieve it. Flawed as they are, the story doesn't dwell long enough on any one aspect of their unhappiness so it steers clear of the depression you'd expect to find in a book like this. If I were to take the story out of the equation, I'd say that the writing was lovely. Lovely, without being over-the-top. The imagery and the voice of the characters came through enough for me to want to finish the book and I would absolutely read another book by Tekulve.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Patti Smith on May 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Short and Sweet Summary

Caleb Sypher takes 16 year old Emma Sypher from coal country in War, West Virginia to
47 acres of Virginia mountain farmland on a ridge above a valley called God's Thumbprint. They build a home and gardens reminiscent of the ones Caleb saw in Italy when he was there during the war and settle in to create a home and a life for themselves and their son Dean. But, life is all about what happens while you're making even the best of plans, and their lives are changed forever one day by a tramp named Bambino. For the next 50+ years, Grandfather and Grandmother Palmisano, Uncle Carlo, Father Edward,
Dean Sypher and his wife Sadie, Sadie's mother Jane Musick, Dean and Sadie's daughter Hannah, Aunt Maria, Dr. Chapel, the vet and Luther and Ruth's lives all meld together to change each other's directions and form a community of people who struggle to move into the future while holding on to the past.
A family story not to be missed.

What I Liked

The vivid descriptions of the mountains, the trees, the wildflowers, the growing gardens, the roads, the houses, the people...I loved Tekulve's rich descriptions from the first paragraph.

The generations...while Tekulve's story covers 3 generations, she writes in such a way that you don't get so attached to the characters just to have them disappear once the next generation begins. Those characters always stay with the ones they leave behind. Sadie's character, in particular, is one who through her quiet strength, deeply affects those she loved and those who loved her. These are real people, living real lives, under real circumstances, making real choices that shaped the communities they lived in and their families.
Read more ›
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tiffany A. Harkleroad VINE VOICE on May 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
When Emma was 16, a train car of coal was dumped onto her family's home. A local man helps dig her out, and clean her up. The two eventually marry, and have a son. Several generations of this family endure hardship and poverty, throughout the Great Depression, World War II, and years of great change for the country.

I was really torn about this book. On the one hand, the writing is really beautiful. The book contains dozens of the snapshot type scenes that are so lovingly described. The very words on the pages are touching, and delicate. The characters are all living in poverty and hardship, and their situations are described with such beauty that it is truly moving.

On the other hand, I felt very little connection to the characters or the story. Because we are talking about multiple generations over a span of more than 40 years, I felt like the story was disjointed. Several years pass between chapters, and I am the kind of reader that wants to have those gaps filled in. It felt like watching a serialized show and missing several episodes. I feel like I would have enjoyed the book a lot more if it had focused on less characters over a more specific period of time. As it was written, I just had a lot of difficulty connecting to anything more than the lyrical nature of the words themselves.

Fans of multigenerational stories will enjoy this book, as will fans of southern or Appalachian literature.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.
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