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On Agate Hill: A Novel Paperback – August 28, 2007
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
As always, Ms. Smith writes with delightful humor. Tuscany, who has renamed herself in high school, had decided not to do a thesis on "Beauty Shop Culture in the South: Big Hair and Community." The sexually repressed Mariah Snow endures the marriage bed by reciting in her head portions of Milton's "Paradise Lost." There are beautiful passages as well, for instance, when the young Molly's uncle asks her if she came to help him with the sunrise. Ms. Smith also has perfect pitch when it comes to dialogue and common sayings from the Appalachian Mountains: "Cat got your tongue?" A character is "old as the hills." Another is "tickled." Farmers raise "banty roosters." Children are "younguns." And finally the strange construction that I hear sometimes in these parts, "I taken."
In spite of all the frivolity here, this novel can be as serious and sad as a country burying. The period immediately after the Civil War was hard for everyone, black and white folks alike. Some children lost parents in the war; others died in infancy. Ms.Read more ›
The bundle of old diaries, letters and other documents that tell the story of Molly Petree's life have been collected in the present day by the self-named Tuscany Miller, a funny, sassy example of modern southern womanhood. A beauty pageant veteran whose father has recently undergone a sex-change operation and remarried as Ava, Tuscany wants to return to college and proposes to use the documents to design a new thesis.
We meet Molly, an orphan, in 1872 on her 13th birthday. She has lost not only her parents but her four siblings as well. Two of her brothers and her father were killed in battle and childbirth took care of the rest, including her beloved aunt, mistress of Agate Hill. "I live in a house of ghosts," writes Molly in her new diary. The diary ends the day she is rescued from neglect and rape by a brooding mysterious benefactor and sent to a girls' boarding school.
From this point on, we view Molly mostly through others' eyes, with two exceptions. The first is Molly's letters to an invalid friend, which continue throughout her life, despite the early cessation of replies, and the last is an appendage to her diary after years of tumult, tragedy and striving.
Other views include that of Mariah, the dour, repressed headmistress who hates her (Molly has caught her creepy husband's eye), and Agnes, Mariah's sweet, spinster sister, a teacher at the Academy and a good friend to Molly.
The first section of the book is the strongest. Molly's young, grieving, bewildered voice is nonetheless strong and full of life in the aftermath of devastating war.Read more ›
The first part, the diary of young Molly Petree, was the hardest part of the book for me. I'm a big fan of Southern Gothic, but her meandering childhood on her uncle's decaying plantation was unfocused, with too much time spent in day-to-day descriptions while the cataclysmic events that alter her character and destiny are rushed and unexplained.
The latter half of the book gets better. Molly's school days are described through the eyes of a bizarrely creepy headmistress and feels reminiscent of Jane Eyre and A Little Princess. Her time spent teaching in the mountains is charming, and her discovery of love and romance feels genuine. The tragedies that beset her later life are moving and almost made me cry. But the final "mystery" of Molly's mysterious benefactor is remarkably anticlimactic, and the overall patchiness of the story never really gels. Each individual section, except the beginning, makes an interesting anecdote, but overall On Agate Hill never becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An amazing book, many surprises. Molly is a wonderful character I loved reading all the letters she wrote in her diary as the story developed. I would read it again.Published 22 days ago by Patricia G.
The plot was full of surprises. I read so fast I actually misses some key words and was fooled a few times.Published 1 month ago by Betty Brayer
Very interesting, I like the characters. I enjoyed the twists & turns in the main characters life.Published 4 months ago by SW
The story of Molly Petree is brought to life through Molly’s journal, letters, newspaper clippings, and court records found in an old home called Agate Hill. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Chessy The Cat
Very well written and really pulls you in to the story! Absolutely enjoyed this book and the characters. Must read!Published 12 months ago by shannon davidoff
This is probably my favorite read this year. I absolutely loved the writing, how the characters had so much depth and came to life. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Michele Smith