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The Moonflower Vine: A Novel (P.S.) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 318 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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"The Moonflower Vine" is a beautifully written novel, filled with engaging, dynamic characters and raw human emotion. I'm thrilled that I've discovered this forgotten treasure, and I encourage other readers to check it out as well.
But each lifetime is only a piece in the puzzle of the Soames family until Callie, the strong, understated matriarch, who keeps the hardest secret of all; not until her story is told do all the others finally come together into a whole portrait, even though each story before hers seemed whole enough on its own. The book's title comes from the flowers that bloom for one night a year in the Ozarks, when the family reunites to watch them bloom for such a short season. The last chapter of Callie's story, when she suddenly finds herself an old woman and the reader suddenly discovers that half a century has passed with the Soameses, is one of the most penetrating insights into aging that I have ever read.
"The Moonflower Vine" contains as many tragedies as a family could normally expect in half a century, but not too many, and overall it is an affirming and empowering novel. But its saddest fact doesn't appear in the novel at all -- that Jetta Carleton, whose literary debut is a masterpiece, never wrote another book. "The Moonflower Vine" was an overnight sensation when it was published in 1962 -- a Literary Guild selection, and a Reader's Digest Condensed Book in 1963. But four decades later, Jetta Carleton and her book are nearly forgotten. Jetta Carleton Lyon lived a full and happy life, moving in 1970 to New Mexico, where she ran a small publishing company until her death in 1999. "The Moonflower Vine" was reprinted by Bantam in 1984, and by Buccaneer in 1995.
My grandmother collected Reader's Digest Condensed Books, and I discovered "The Moonflower Vine" as a child at her home years later (in the same volume with "The Shoes of the Fisherman" by Morris West). Soon afterward, I had to read the whole novel. A quarter century has passed, and I still can't pick it up without reading it again. And I never put it down without a catch in my throat.