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My Old True Love Hardcover – January 4, 2004

4.9 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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The Secret Healer
In the fourteenth century, opportunities for women are limited. But spirited young Madlen can't resist her gift for healing, even if it puts her life in danger. Learn More
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“As passionate and eventful as an Irish ballad.”
–The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“I laughed, I cried. I felt everything I remember feeling as a child.”
–Dolly Parton

“Sheila Kay Adams can write the bark off a tree. . . . [Her] intimacy with mountain culture ranks with that of Lee Smith.”
–The Roanoke Times

“Deeply satisfying storytelling propelled by the desires of full-bodied, prickly characters set against a landscape rendered in all its beauty and harshness.”
–Kirkus Reviews

“Adams can make you laugh. And she can make you clear your throat and wipe at the corners of your eyes from emotion. This is no small thing. She has the gift.”
–Chattanooga Times Free Press --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Sheila Kay Adams is an acclaimed performer of Appalachian ballads passed down for seven generations through her own ancestors. She has been a featured performer in several documentary films, served as Technical Director for the film Songcatcher, contributed to The Last of the Mohicans, and was cohost and coproducer of Public Radio's Over Home. She performs year-round at major festivals throughout the United States, as well as in the U.K. She has three children and lives with her husband, Jim Taylor, in Madison County, North Carolina, where she was born.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (January 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565124073
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565124073
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #375,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This first novel is a haunting gem of writer's art. It literally pulsates from the realness of the people it brings to life.
"Some people is born at the start of a long hard row to hoe," the feisty heroine, Arty Norton says, "... and it seems to me that right from the git-go, Larkin Stanton had the longest and hardest row I've ever seen."
Growing up together in the shadow of Lonesome Mountain, in North Carolina, two boys are inseparable companions. As they mature, they find themselves at odds when the Civil War rips the fabric of their isolated community and they both fall in love with Mary, a redhead beauty who "smells like strawberries."
Like the ballads interspersed throughout the book to express emotions the characters find too intense to speak in words, the novel embodies the passion, violence, betrayal and tragic lyricism typical of mountain tales.
The characters speak in a dialect that is music itself--lilting, full of metaphors, an old-fashioned sidewise approach to conversation that makes today's in-your-face directness seem coarse.
I'm sorry this book ended. I could have read it forever.
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Format: Hardcover
Sheila Ray Adams writes a thoroughly enjoyable novel using the voice, eyes and ears of Arty Norton, the mother of ten children living in the mid- to late 1800s around the time of the Civil War. She captures the honesty, simplicity and beauty of the Appalachian lifestyle. Based very loosely on the loves and lives of two of her male ancestors who lived in North Carolina and fought during the Civil War, she describes their close relationship and the complex emotions which ran deep during the unfolding of their interwoven lives. Arty tells us how some people have a longer and harder row to hoe in life than others and that is just how it is. She tells how Larkin Stanton was born, just before his mother died in childbirth and how he and Hackley Norton, his cousin, of age 4 or 5 years, became inseparable best friends throughout their lives ... even as they both woooed the same beautiful red-haired, freckle faced girl ... whom eventually one of them courted and married.

The reader is drawn to the cycles of time, community and social relations ... as it is lived in the mountains of North Carolina. The author includes her love of music and ballads throughout the novel in a highly creative manner. The ballads date back to the 1700s when immigrants from the British isles first settled the Appalachian Mountains. She occasionally includes lyrics to songs, using all the verses to dramatize the plot and story in a very effective manner. There is a nostalgic longing in this reader to live the more simple but physically harsh life described in this novel. The author gradually reveals the complex and deep emotions of the main characters. Her descriptions of mountain romance is highly engaging.
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Format: Hardcover
Folks, this is a great book! As a professor of English and the facilitator of a book group for 12 years, I can recommend this book very highly. It is full of wisdom, it is about a North Carolina family just before and after the Civil War, and the characters that you will meet and the warm, down-home wisdom will stay with you. (...) You won't regret reading this one!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was recommended by several readers of my own books and I finally got around to reading it. I’m sorry it took so long. My loyal readers know that I love southern fiction, the Civil War era, Appalachia (the places and the people), and mountain music, especially ballads. This book delivers all three. Sheila Kay Adams is a performer of Appalachian ballads and was technical director for the great film, “Songcatcher”. I often lament that writers are at a disadvantage against songwriters and singers and movies with wonderful soundtracks. It is extremely difficult to bring that “music” to the written page. But Adams makes her words sing. I could hear the voices and the instruments. She also writes in first person dialect with a distinct on-the-mark Appalachian accent. I sometimes find dialect used both in narration and dialogue distracting, but readers can tell that Adams is speaking her own language and the language of her ancestors from a century and a half ago. This is what Arty, the narrator and protagonist, would have thought and how she would have expressed it. Arty is a pragmatic, loving woman of her time that endures the hardscrabble life in the mountains of North Carolina and later, the horrors of the home front when the men in her life leave to fight in the war. There are other well-developed, complex characters here, but the novel revolves around Arty.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This has become a new favorite for me. I loved this. Each scene and every chapter was written with such vivid simplicity, that it had me turning the pages in anticipation. Arty's voice was so real, and it really made the story come to life . Add in the ballads, which in their own way helped to frame the novel and that just made it all the more haunting, especially given the way things were there towards the end. And I must admit that I didn't expect for it to end that way. Andd while I don't know that I am altogether hapy with said ending, this is nevertheless a very good read and it is one that will stay with me for a long time to come.
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