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Follow Me Down: A Novel Paperback – July 27, 1993

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

A mesmerizing novel of faith, passion, and murder by the author of The Civil War: A Narrative. Drawing on themes as old as the Bible, Foote's novel compels us to inhabit lives obsessed with sin and starving for redemption. A work reminiscent of both Faulkner and O'Connor, yet utterly original.

About the Author

Shelby Foote was born on November 7, 1916 in Greenville, Mississippi, and attended school there until he entered the University of North Carolina. During World War II he served as a captain of field artillery but never saw combat. After World War II he worked briefly for the Associated Press in their New York bureau. In 1953 he moved to Memphis, where he lived for the remainder of his life.Foote was the author of six novels: Tournament, Follow Me Down, Love in a Dry Season, Shiloh, Jordan County, and September, September. He is best remembered for his 3-volume history The Civil War: A Narrative, which took twenty years to complete and resulted in his being a featured expert in Ken Burns' acclaimed Civil War documentary. Over the course of his writing career, Foote was also awarded three Guggenheim fellowships.Shelby Foote died in 2005 at the age of 88.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (July 27, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679736174
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679736172
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #713,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Follow Me Down tells the story of a fifty-year old man and his wife, a love-lost young woman, a deaf and dumb young man and his mother, and a defense attorney with a chip on his shoulder. Told through the eyes of eight characters, the story revolves around a violent act, recounting the story behind it. The novel is filled with well developed characters overflowing with uncontrollable emotions and the resulting consequences of them. In closing, Shelby Foote's Follow Me Down grabs your attention and holds it until the last page.
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Format: Paperback
A murder story in a small Mississippi town is told through the first person voices of several involved characters. We know who did it right away, since the novel opens during the criminal trial through the voice of the bailiff. We also immediately know how, when, and where. The question is why, and the text spirals back in time through the various voices in search of that question.

This was Shelby Foote's second novel about this town, and the first he considered mature. He was young and fierce, but with a very controlled fire and a precocious knack for narrative suspense and smoothness; it moves right along and you overlook the really radical method of story-telling. The technique is a considered extension and development of Faulkner's multi-voice method in As I Lay Dying, and the reader is required to overlook the fact that illiterate, retarded, and in one instance even a dead person are "writing." Thinking of the voices on stage as in classic Greek drama may help you get over the logical gulf, and that is doubtless a context Foote would have liked you to see him in. This was his break-out book to a mass audience, prior to his famous Civil War series. He was out to duel with Goliath, and if the book does not entirely succeed it is amazing how much is achieved; in any event I give it 4 instead of 5 stars, as he was shortly to set his own 5 star standard in fiction.

Persons who know Foote's mellow grandfather personna from the Ken Burns Civil War series on TV will be forced to sit bolt upright, shortly into this saga. It is gritty realism on the level of Erskine Caldwell or Hemingway's To Have and Have Not. Ugly details, while not wallowed in, are not withheld. The South is not romanticized, but neither is it subjected to political correctness.
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Format: Paperback
I read this after "Love in a Dry Season" (which on the whole is a better book) and was not terribly disappointed. "Follow Me Down" is certainly an arresting read. I have to say, however, that a few characters Foote chooses as narrators (Circuit Clerk, Reporter) are perhaps not as interesting or necessary as others, and that the book would function as a better whole if Foote reused his more interesting and sympathetic characters instead of introducing minor observers as narrators. Surprisingly, Foote's women characters are the most interesting and sympathetic, although they also get the least time on-stage. This really disappointed me. He spends five (I think?) sections with Eustis, the murderer, and while he is a fractured man to be sure, his voice simply doesn't hold up the way Beulah's does, or Kate's (in the section "Wife").

And one more thing. Perhaps this isn't a valid criticism, but if you've read Faulkner, a lot of this seems a bit like an overt homage rather than simply "expanding on a style". Many of the techniques and themes (even the setting) are so similar as to be off-putting. As I said, perhaps this isn't even a criticism. After all, Foote was from the same state and doubtlessly affected by many of the same experiences. So. Just a thought.

Overall, a great and fascinating read. I finished it in three days.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Shelby Foote's 1950 novel "Follow Me Down" is the story of a murder in Jordan County, Mississippi, as told from the point of view of nine different participants in the drama. Each person's thoughts and dialogue narrate overlapping parts of the case, told in a circular fashion from the trial backwards to the murder and forward to the verdict.

Foote writes in the voice and dialect appropriate to each character; readers will recognize a style once made popular by William Faulkner. Foote also captures the gritty life and times of a rural Mississippi Delta town well prior to the arrival of desegration. Old-time religion has a major claim on people's lives, but so does poverty, desire, and disappointment.

The accused murderer, a farmer by the name of Luther Eustis, has at the beginning of the book already confessed to the murder of the young girl Beulah, but Foote's multi-layered recounting of the murder and trial add considerable complexity to the case while exploring the motivation of the killer. The end result is unexpected but somehow more satisfying.

This book is highly recommended to fans of Shelby Foote looking for a different reading experience than his justly famous history of the Civil War, the basis for Ken Burns' popular TV series on the same subject.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you love good old fashioned southern tales ,then Shelby Foote knows how to write them . This story sort-of begins at the end : you know there is a man on trial for a woman's murder . I don't usually like books that tell the end of the story before the beginning, but this one doesn't give away everything in the beginning. You will know the basic framework, that the man is in his 50s and the girl only 18 . The story ends up being told by multiple voices of different character's viewpoints .
This is what makes the book interesting : you want to know how this took place, how these 2 totally different people ever got together in the beginning ,and what the circumstances were . The author even keeps you guessing that the wrong man MAY be on trial. I kept thinking it was another character all along .
I liked getting to hear from the victim's viewpoint , and what she had to say about the situation, then also from the killer's perspective and why he felt the need to do what he did .
A very well told story , made all the better by the narrator, as I listened to this on audio . Grover Gardner is at the top of his game in this one (as he is in all of his books I've listened to ). He is spot-on with all the different voices and characters. Excellent work !
* If you happen to look this up or decide to listen to the audio, it will list Tom Parker as the narrator. That was one of Grover's earlier "aliases " , I guess you'd call them.
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