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Ash Grove Paperback – June 29, 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

From "Stories of Privilege and Poverty Intertwine in Eloquent Ash Grove"
Book Review by Christina Lovin
New Southerner, 2012
A tale spun out as if from a reel of dynamite fuse, Wanda Fries' Ash Grove winds a precarious, rocky way through darkness, back into the light.

Christina Lovin is the author of
A Stirring in the Dark, What We Burned for Warmth, Little Fires and Flesh (forthcoming). An award-winning poet, her work has been widely published and anthologized. She teaches English and Creative Writing courses at Eastern Kentucky University.

About the Author

Wanda Fries has published poetry and short fiction in various anthologies and journals, including The River City Review, Sojourners, and The Michigan Quarterly Review. A Breadloaf scholar and graduate of Bennington College's MFA program, she has also twice been awarded an Al Smith Fellowship in Fiction from the Kentucky Arts. She is the author of two books, Cassandra Among the Greeks, a collection of poetry, and Ash Grove, a novel. She lives in Kentucky with her husband, Denny, a geologist.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Ginkgo Leaf Books (June 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061562619X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615626192
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,703,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I began reading Ash Grove one afternoon and could not put it down. Set amid eastern Kentucky's boom/bust coal economy, Ash Grove is a compelling story of love, loss, and redemption. This book is about my country so I found it particularly appealing and painful. Its characters are so well chiseled that I can almost attach names of people I've known and grown up with. They were portrayed with such integrity and inner dignity yet without a touch of sentimentality. The dialogue shows that Wanda Fries speaks their language, that she knows these people. She gets the region and the mood and the time period right on the mark. It is rare to find books of such depth and relevance and tenderness. This is the kind of book that you grieve over when you finish it, much as you would the loss of a good friend. This is the best book I've read since Winter's Bone.
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Set in a southern Appalachian coal mining town Ash Grove explores themes of family, forgiveness and redemption. Will, the boss's son and Deanna, an alcoholic miner's daughter escape Ash Grove but are unable to leave their memories behind. Will remains haunted by the mysterious death of his mother and his own self-imposed isolation while Deanna fears repeating her mother's mistakes. Both find the freedom and grace to return to home and family as secrets come to light and they are finally able to forgive. Fries' characters are reminiscent of Barbara Kingsolvers and will be with you long after you finish this heartwarming book.
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Format: Paperback
Not only is Wanda Fries a gifted poet as indicated in Cassandra Among the Greeks, but in Ash Grove, her first novel, she proves the range of her talents. I concur with the praise found in the previously published reviews, so rather than repeat what has already been said, I will simply say that I had the honor of reading the novel in various stages of its creation, and unlikely as it might seem, I find this final version just as compelling to read as was the first. While reading certain of the books that are recommended to me, I often find myself counting the pages to the end, as some of my students might when trying to get to the end of an assigned reading. In the case of Ash Grove, I did not want it to end. Who can forget Will and Deana and their tangled, tormented families as they seek answers to questions regarding the death of Will's mother, and later, the murder of his father? Fries has great respect and adoration for the written word, and she develops her characters with the same. That she loves to tell their stories is obvious, and her use of several points of view adds even more depth to her characters as well as to their stories. As Lee Smith has said, Ash Grove is "both gritty and poetic, real and transcendent." I look forward to reading her next novel, soon to be published, and one which I have also been privileged to read in manuscript form.
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Format: Paperback
I was very impressed. If I didn't know that this was her first novel, I would have never guessed. The book was intriguing. . . I couldn't put it down. Would definitely recommend it to others! Looking foward to her next book!
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Format: Paperback
All of my life, I know I've read a good book when, days after finishing the book, I'm still thinking about the characters and missing eavesdropping on their lives. That's how I feel about Wanda Haynes Fries' "Ash Grove" novel. I would really like to listen in on the conversations between Will and Deana and see how Sophie is doing. I'm also marveling on the circumstances surrounding my completion of this book. I had started it Christmas 2012 and had misplaced it on the return home from break. By the time I found it, classes were in full swing and I didn't have time to finish reading it. So, I picked it up this July 2013 and started again from the beginning. For those who have yet to read it, I won't give the story away. However, it deals with the stuff of life and death and losing our parents and all of the ramifications that go along with that loss. The unanswered questions, the weight of the responsibility of assuming the role of handling the estate, the "what ifs" and "whys" of trying to understand what made our parents and, consequently, us the way they were and we are, etc. Hmmmm....sound familiar? Perhaps it was providence that I misplaced the book and didn't finish reading it in January. Because just a few months later, I'd be living many of the themes so vividly described within the pages of this book. Providence? Another theme discussed in the book along with our faith and how it shapes us. The mere fact that I'm feeling this way about my completion of the book will probably make Wanda Fries smile, or perhaps bring a tear to her eye. There's one thing for certain, I was reading it with a different set of eyes than the ones I was reading with in January. I don't think any book could have been more perfect for me to read the summer after the unexpected passing of my Dad and the accompanying role of Executrix that has fallen on my shoulders than this one. Thank you, Wanda Fries, what a gift you have given me wrapped up in the pages of this book!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A wonderful book! I bought it as a gift for my Mom and couldn't wait for her to finish and give it to me.
This is a story one can't wait to get back to after the day's chores are done.
Thank you, Wanda Fries, for putting the words and feelings so effortlessly and just right. . .
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