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An Elderberry Fall (Zane Presents) Paperback – August 26, 2014

4.7 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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The Underground Railroad
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"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ruth P. Watson is the author of Blackberry Days of SummerAn Elderberry Fall and Cranberry Winter. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and son. She divides her time between being a business owner, writer, and educator. She has a master’s degree and is currently working on a new novel and documentary.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

An Elderberry Fall

Chapter 1


Images

On February 4th, 1921, I gulped a breath of fresh air before I took the last step down the train steps onto solid ground. The brisk wind caressed my skin, and alerted me to a new reality. “So this is Richmond, Virginia,” I said to myself, gazing around at the cobblestone sidewalks and cars. My six-month-old son, Robert, had his head resting on my shoulder as I struggled with my overloaded suitcase, straining every muscle in my body, but I could not have cared less. Who would have believed a young girl like me would be here—in the big city, with streetcars and tall buildings and with colored people strutting around in fine, fashionable outfits, like the kind white folk wore in Jefferson County on special occasions? The coloreds appeared proud, like they owned the town. It felt good, and I fought to slow my heart down from the rush of anxiety. It was certainly different here. Most of the folks I knew probably thought I would live forever in Jefferson County amongst the sour memories and shame from the child I bore out of wedlock. But I was not so ready to stay there. When Simon asked me to come to Richmond, Virginia, my real transformation began.

•  •  •

My child, Robert, is beautiful. He is almost flawless. Each day I study the ridges around his little fingers, waiting to see if his tan color and fine features and that innocent, charismatic smile will remain. He favors me for the most part. However, there are times when his eyes seem dark and mysterious, and it sends chills throughout my body.

Robert, Simon and I live in a small apartment on the west side of Richmond—Jackson Heights, they call it. It’s the colored section of town. It is a fine neighborhood, with shrubbery and flowers planted tastefully in front of well kept tenement houses and single-family row homes. Our place is a small, brick, two-story house with a cast-iron fence around it. Alongside the yard is an elderberry bush, which reminds me of the sweet jam Momma made in the fall. Most of the neighborhood residents are colored and oblivious to the surrounding communities. Everything seems to be within walking distance—the grocer, tailor, the cobbler, and the feed and seed store. The corner store has everything we need. Farmers are unloading crates of vegetables every day, and hanging inside are hams, and there is a meat counter where slices of select meat can be packaged. It is well stocked, and I am overwhelmed that I no longer have to work in a field with the hot sun beaming down on me. Simon has a rooster and two hens in the backyard, mainly for eggs. But, I can imagine them on the table stuffed with cornbread dressing.

We share our backyard with a couple downstairs. They are on the front porch every day sitting in a porch swing with wide smiles swept across their faces as if the stresses of life had floated past them even though they are different from others in the neighborhood. Most people stare transfixed by their difference. The lady is white, very pale, and the man is colored. Most feel their living together is a disgrace to everyone around them. It is alright with me because they seem happy. And from where I come from, happiness is the center of life and satisfaction. The man is tall and very dark, almost as dark as a midnight sky. He is clean, somewhat handsome and solid in build. She is a petite lady of normal height, a brunette, with barely any frown lines or wrinkles and sky-blue eyes. The Halls are at least sixty years old, but they don’t look it. Directly across the street from us is another strange, but beautiful couple. The man is rugged in appearance like most railroad workers. He has long lashes like those of a woman, thick bushy hair and flawless caramel skin. Though handsome, he is never well-groomed. His wife is also attractive. She is dark chocolate with a lot of hair that falls to her shoulders, and bounces as she walks; her pouty lips are the kind the old people swear are sexy. Those neighbors have two children. Simon and I are getting used to the newness of city life, the sounds of the streetcars, the pinging of the church clock, and the whispers of voices walking down the street. On steamy summer nights, the neighborhood seems to explode. Vague voices and outbursts of laughter are heard from blocks away. It’s a jovial place. The sounds of crickets chirping are drowned out by the hissing of the steam shooting out of the trains and streetcars starting and stopping along its route through town. The action is hypnotic. I find myself loathing going to sleep, because I relish the sounds of city life so much. It is invigorating.

I can’t help wondering about Momma and her life in a world shadowed with trees. She is alone now, with painful memories about a time all of us would love to forget. But, somehow the past always come back to you in some form. Carl, my brother, is still in Jefferson County, and yards away from my mother. He is just like my papa, strong-willed and no-nonsense. He is the strength she needs right now. When Camm was murdered, I’d waited for her to lose it all—break down in tears—but instead her face appeared less tense, relaxed. Just like for me, a burden had been lifted from my mother’s shoulders.

Simon is all I need right now. He is such a handsome man, physically and mentally strong. He is truly mine in every form, something I never thought would happen; and I adore ever inch of his being. I quiver sometimes just thinking about how complete he makes me feel. “Oh, Lawd, is this right?” I say to myself, and feel warm chills travel over my skin. He says he loves me, and acts like it, too. He is so attentive to me and Robert. Along with most women we are around, the lady across the street is always staring at my husband. I smile shyly at her, knowing she’d better stay in her place, because he has chosen me.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Zane Presents
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Strebor Books (August 26, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593095155
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593095154
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #917,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am still reading this sequel and I absolutely adore both novels. This is why I am bewildered by the change of dates/ages in this sequel. In the first story, Carrie has the baby on Christmas Day and she is 15, soon to be 16. She didn't leave home until March (after receiving a letter from Simon dated for January) and the baby was 3 months old. In this sequel, she is arriving in February and the baby is six-months old and she is 17!! This isn't a big deal, but these are the types of mistakes that can be a turn off!!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When I closed the pages of Blackberry Days of Summer, I wondered about the characters, their lot in life, and what they were doing. I downloaded An Elderberry Fall and was thoroughly impressed with the continuation of this rich, complex story.

Ruth Watson picks up Carrie's story in Richmond, Virginia. She is married to loving Simon, her hometown knight in shining armor. He has taken her to a new place, away from the pain and shame she suffered. As he aspires to become a staple in the Negro Leagues, Carrie is encouraged to be a content wife and mother, a woman who should be grateful such a good man "took her and Robert in." This is where Watson's magic begins. In beautiful prose, she unfolds a multifaceted look at life for African-Americans, and particularly women, during the twenties. Carrie fights against wanting marriage and a career, trusting her husband, and questioning if things are as they seem. In poetic, seamless fashion, Watson introduces characters that intrigued readers in book one: Pearl, Mae Lou, Ginny, Willie, Carl, and John. We meet new characters as well who lend intrigue to the plot.

Today I'm thinking of Adam, Nadine, and Mrs. Hall, hoping I'll see them again. (Hint hint) Side note: Just when I thought I knew all the uses for vinegar, Watson threw me for a loop. Bravo, Ruth Watson, and thank you for such a beautiful story.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I can hardly wait for the next novel from Ms Watson! This was a great read...suspenseful and unpredictable. Engaging...almost like you personally know the characters or you are a character in the novel.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was an excellent story. I cannot wait to read even more stories from Ruth Watson and I do hope there is a sequel to this story. It is obvious Ms. Watson did a lot of research for this novel, because the story was so long ago...and I enjoyed the history that flavored some of her pages. I could not put this book down, and now I'm sorry I read it so fast, because now I must wait for the next novel Ms. Watson creates.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"Throw Me To The Wolves And I Will Return Leading The Pack"

This quote does not begin to describe Ruth P. Watson, the author of "An Elderberry Fall"

This novel is exquisite, daring, and intriguing. You are engaged the moment you read the first word.

The characters leap from the pages as they each take you on their journey of mystique, but each of them have

a personal story, but this is what makes this novel interesting, the character's are continually trying to convince you that they did not kill Herman Camm.

This is the "aroma" of the subliminal story line that grasps your mind, Carrie, Simon, Ginny, Ms Pearl, Carl ect. will not stop "talking" in your head as you read, because they are constantly trying to defending their own testimony to distract you from asking the question, where were you when this murder took place?

The characters are have mastered their alibi's which creates an pregnant illusion that won't give birth to the truth.

This is a true southern thriller that captivates you totally as you try to separate the facts from the fiction.

The ending was simply brilliant, the best is yet to come.
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Format: Paperback
Speechless! Ruth P. Watson has done it again! As an avid reader, very few make my list of favorites but this author is a great storyteller and one of my favorite authors. From the minute my pre-order downloaded it held my interest until the very end. Again you are emotionally drawn into the dramatic events that thake place throughout from start to finish with each character. The lives of these people continue to unfold as the past is never really far behind you. The new characters - the Hall's, Nadie and Adam each hold their place among the drama. I really love how the author intertwined their lives and personalities. Each one of them made the story that much more interesting.

I really love the title as it has a great significance to the book. Elderberries reminded Carrie of home where they grew beside her childhood home and because ripe Elderberries are known for their healing and medicinal purposes while at the same time the rest of the plant is potentially deadly.

I don't want to give away any spoilers but the events and twist will leave you in awe and made me ask myself the question - Is Herman Camm Really dead? How Innocent is Pearl? What secrets if any is Carl hiding? If you were a lawyer, what would you withhold to protect your family? Just to name a new....

Ruth P. Watson you are amazing! Can't wait to see what's next!
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Format: Paperback
Ms. Watson has once again succeeded in pulling me into the lives of her characters. Once I "met" Carrie, a young wife and mother, I felt a connection to her and the challenges she faces. This story is well-plotted, and my only complaint is that I'll need to read the next book in the series to see what happens to Carrie.
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