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The Tilted World: A Novel
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 19, 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It rained for months and months during the winter of 1926-27 and the waters of the Mississippi River rose and threatened to spill over the stacks of sandbags on top of the levees protecting towns and cities and hundreds of thousands of people.

In The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly, Ingersoll and his partner Ham are revenue agents and have been sent by Hoover to Hobnob, Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of two agents who were close to discovering a local still. In Hobnob, Dixie Clay and her husband Jesse have made a fortune on moonshine even as their marriage crumbles. The paths of the federal agents and the bootleggers will cross as the flood water gush down on the community and drastically change all their lives.

The tale is intriguing. I'm always a sucker for a good moon shining story. The plot moves along steadily and then builds momentum to the moment the waters flood the area and the story surges forward on a frantic-paced, wild ride as the world washes away and the people are left with only the instinctive struggle to survive. I admit, I'm left hungry for more factual details of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 but The Tilted World does a tremendous job of showing the chaos and confusion from the perspective of people experiencing the disaster.

With beautiful language, the language of a poet and mother, the scenes between Dixie and her newly adopted orphan baby are breathtaking and stunning in their understanding of a mother's rapidly expanding, encompassing love for an infant. I appreciated the eloquence of expression throughout the novel and since this is my first experience with either Franklin and Fennelly, I can't help but attribute the words to the poet.

With the understanding that I am being exceptionally critical because overall the novel is good enough to withstand my nitpicking, the supporting characters are at times weak and cliche. I would have liked Jeanette and Uncle Mookey to be treated with more depth.

I was mesmerized by The Tilted World and the journey back to the days of Prohibition, moonshine stills in the hills and the horrors of the Great Flood.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 23, 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Before reading 'The Tilted World', all I knew about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 I learned by listening to songs by Bessie Smith, Randy Newman and Led Zeppelin. That a flood could cover an area of the United States the size of New England in my parents' lifetimes and hardly anybody today knows about it is beyond comprehension.

It is the perfect setting for a story of people whose lives are turned upside down.

'The Tilted World' is written in tag-team fashion by husband and wife authors Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly. I've read Franklin before and find him an excellent voice of the American South that is likely to appeal to male readers. Fennelly's writing is more lyrical yet dovetails nicely with her husband's more matter-of-fact style. Both serve to bring out the personalities of their characters with Franklin serving as the voice of Teddy Ingersoll, a World War I veteran and strong silent type with a passion for the blues, and Fennelly speaking for Dixie Clay Holliver, an introspective woman coming to regret the impulsive match made in her younger days and mourning the loss of her baby to scarlet fever. Ingersoll is a revenue agent and Dixie is a moonshiner. It could never work.

Alright, I admit it. The book is a romance, but don't let that scare you off. It is also a thriller, complete with all the sorts of thriller stuff like murders, explosions, natural disasters, torture, kidnapping and all sorts of near-death experiences.

The history buffs will enjoy the descriptions of a world waiting for the inevitable break in the levee. The parts about the flood are well researched but Franklin does make a few historical blunders on more general topics such as the landlady wearing `nylon stockings' thirteen years before they were invented or the `pair of Atlanta engineers' chatting about `the Braves' 40 years before the team moved to that fair city. Even so, it's a great yarn, well worth reading.

*Quotations are cited from an advanced reading copy and may not be the same as appears in the final published edition. The review copy of this book was obtained from the publisher via the Amazon Vine Program.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The Mississippi River was home to Dixie Clay after she married her husband, Jesse. at the ripe old age of sixteen. She really didn't know anything about what he did for a living, and she certainly didn't know he was a bootlegger.

THE TILTED WORLD is set in Mississippi during the flooding in the 1920's and has a very eccentric set of characters. There are bootleggers, revenuers trying to catch the bootleggers, women who are supporting their bootlegging husbands, and a baby who along with Dixie Clay are two of the main characters, and the characters that carry the storyline.

Dixie Clay and the baby will warm your heart, and Jesse will make you want to set him straight for how he treats Dixie Clay.

Ingersoll and Ham are the revenuers who have out-of-the ordinary backgrounds...especially Ingersoll. Ingersoll's background tells his story in flashbacks. His background made him the "sweet" man Dixie Clay became `sweet" on.

Franklin and Fennelly are master storytellers, and their detail is incredible. You will easily feel the river rising, the steels bubbling, the energy in the speakeasies, and the life that was lead in Mississippi at this time. The writing is smooth and easy and will pull you in just as the river does as the story unfolds.

The book is definitely character driven and quite easy to become involved with the characters whether they are upstanding or not. There actually aren't too many upstanding characters, but I really enjoyed THE TILTED WORLD once it got on its way.

I didn't know what to expect at first, but THE TILTED WORLD is quite appealing because of the characters and the amazing writing. You will also find out the meaning of the title.

The ending will have you on the edge of your seat, but it will also have you smiling. 4/5

This book was given to me free of charge by the publisher and without compensation in return for an honest review
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was so thrilled to hear about this book! I love tales of community struggle in the face of nature and/or bureaucracy. When I heard that there were going to be bootleggers, I was even more thrilled. So, I guess you could say that I went into this high expectations. This novel did not live up to a single one of my expectations. The characters were thin and static, the plot had less depth than a spaghetti western, and every action was predictable.

There seemed to be too many cooks in the kitchen on this one and it was hard to figure out what the book wanted me to focus on. Was it a story about bootleggers? A tale of corruption in the 1920s? A redemption story? A love story? Or a historic piece? Because the novel suffered from such an identity crisis, it was hard for me to stay focused. There were times that I put the book down and didn't want to pick it up again. Once I finally finished it, I could not say that I felt satisfied that I finished it. I predicted just about everything that was going to happen within the first three chapters. Still, I thought that I would read to the end just in case there was a curve ball thrown in. Nope! I could have stopped reading at chapter three.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was eager to read THE TILTED WORLD as I like historical fiction and I had enjoyed another of Tom Franklin's novels CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER. Unfortunately I found this book difficult to engage with from the beginning and as I continued reading considered the characters' very stereotypical and the storyline unlikely. I also felt the writing was disjointed though maybe that impression comes partly from my realization that the book has two authors (Franklin and his wife). The romance portion of the novel concerning a bootlegger's wife (actually I guess she is a bootlegger herself) and a revenue man was not portrayed in a believable or involving manner. Since the historic 1927 flooding of the Mississippi River and the changes that disaster wrought make an interesting and little known authentic setting I'll give the novel two stars for that.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I really liked other books by Tom Franklin, especially Hell at the Breech, which was superb (perhaps because I prefer books that are based on actual events). While this book is based on the great Mississippi floor of 1927, one of the most impactful natural disasters ever to affect the USA, the writing style is so trite and predictable that is was hard for me to finish. If the special effects were done properly it would probably make a good movie, but as literature, it belongs more in the children's book section
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book drew me in. The writing is literary, the attention to detail wonderful. I was invested in both of the main characters.

And then...the action became unbelievable. Without spoiling, let me just say that I have broken bones and there is a scene later in the book that could not/would not happen. Not only that, the main female character, tough and resilient as she is, simply couldn't have survived some of the things she survived. At that point, I thought I was in a "Bourne" novel, where one expects the main hero to endure and survive ludicrous injuries.

That ruined the book for me. Although the writing is high quality, I cannot strongly recommend this book. Franklin's Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a better book overall.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Oh, where to start.....I absolutely loved The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly! I literally started the book on a Sunday morning and feverishly read until I turned the last page the same night.

Franklin and Fennelly have set their book in 1927 Mississippi - at the time of one of the greatest natural disasters ever to occur in the US. The flood flattened 'almost a million homes, drowning twenty-seven thousand square miles and the water remained for four months. Over 330,000 people were rescued from trees, roofs, and levees."

Dixie Clay Holliver lives along the Mississippi at a bend in the river called Hobnob. Dixie's life isn't quite what she imagined it would be when she married Jesse. Turns out that Jesse is a moonshiner. The loss of her infant son has only added to her grief at the direction her life has taken. But, Dixie does the cooking now - she's better at it than Jesse.

Teddy Ingersoll is a revenuer. In this time of prohibition, Teddy and his partner Ham are always on the move. On their way to Hobnob to investigate the disappearance of two other agents, they come across the lone survivor of a shoot out - an infant boy. Inexplicably, Ingersoll is determined to find a home for the child. When they arrive in Hobnob, Dixie Clay is mentioned as woman who might take in an orphan.

And with that, Dixie and Ingersoll's lives and fates are crossed.

The Tilted World is such a strong novel is every sense of the world. The characters are brilliant. I was so captured by Dixie Clay - her strength, fortitude and abilities belie the hurt beneath her tough exterior. Ingersoll is much the same, with that same strength and fortitude, but no real purpose or direction in his heart.

The setting is just as much of a character in the book as Dixie and Ingersoll. Franklin and Fennelly have done a phenomenal job in bringing time and place to the page. The detailed descriptions of the town, the woods and most of all, the water created vivid mental images for this reader.

Dual narratives are used in The Tilted World to good effect, allowing the reader to be privy to the thoughts of both protagonists.

The Tilted World exemplifies storytelling at it's finest. I was completely caught up in Franklin and Fennelly's tale. I knew what I wanted to happen, I was afraid of what might happen and I couldn't read fast enough to see what did happen. The Tilted World is absolutely recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Easy reading novel set in the days of the great flood of 1927. There are several inaccuracies concerning events of this period, but there are enough truths to keep the story realistic. Some other works with a factual basis for those interested include: Lanterns on the Levee and Rising Tide.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 11, 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Tom Franklin has written some fantastic, gritty Southern novels, often grounded in historical events. "The Tilted World"--co-written with wife Beth Ann Fennelly, a renowned poet in her own right--does not disappoint. This novel is a vast expansion on Franklin and Fennelly's short mystery story "What His Hands Had Been Waiting For" and is a cohesive, well-paced interesting read.

Set in Mississippi in March of 1927, "The Tilted World" is essentially a love story. The backdrop is Prohibition bootlegging and the incredible flooding of the Mississippi River. Corruption, murder, whiskey running, orphans, and honest revenuers are all prominent in this fine novel. Dixie Clay and husband Jesse distill Black Lightning--the finest whiskey around. Teddy Ingersoll and Ham Johnson are charged by future President Herbert Hoover to determine the whereabouts of two missing revenuers and to aid in flood preparations.

Along the way, Ingersoll delivers an orphan to Dixie Clay and in the course of the novel Ingersoll and Dixie Clay fall in love. There is plenty of action along the way, not the least of which is the destruction of the levee and the total devastation the 55+ foot flood waters bring to several Mississippi towns. "The Tilted World" features believable characters, some likeable, some not, and a wonderfully wrought historical background. A worthy read and recommended without reservation.
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