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The Songcatcher Paperback – Import, 2001
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|Paperback, Import, 2001||
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From Publishers Weekly
Skipping back and forth in time from the 18th to the late 20th century, and drawing on her own family history, McCrumb tells two stories in her appealing new novel, one heading toward, the other returning to, the Appalachians. In the present-day sections, 83-year-old John Walker is slowly dying in the eastern Tennessee town where he has lived most of his life, while his estranged daughter, Linda Walker better known as the country singer Lark McCourry is trying to make it home before he dies. She is also trying to recollect an old song she heard once at a family gathering, a song she hopes will round out her forthcoming album. But heading home, Lark is downed in the mountains in a small plane and trapped inside it. Meanwhile, Malcolm McCourry, one of Lark's maternal ancestors, narrates the story of his life, from the day in 1751 when English seamen kidnapped him at the age of nine from the Scottish isle Islay to the close of his life in the mountains of western North Carolina. Always he carries with him a song he learned aboard ship, which is then passed down to his descendants, each one remembering it at a crucial moment. McCrumb, an award-winning crime and mystery writer, has mixed historic and contemporary plots with success in the past (notably in She Walks These Hills and other novels in her Ballad series; some characters from the Ballad series reappear here), and she does so again, letting the past inform the present and generating a good deal of suspense in a novel that is not properly a mystery. Readers may come to feel that Lark McCourry, unlike the tune-miners looking to stake a copyright claim to every mountain song they hear, is the real songcatcher, the rightful inheritor of her family's music.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Full of lore about Appalachia and early folk music, this book, read competently by James Daniels and Aasne Vigesaa, tells of contemporary singer Lark McCourry's search for a folk song once heard at a family gathering. McCrumb also interweaves the life history of Malcolm McCourry, one of Lark's maternal ancestors, who was kidnapped at age nine from the Scottish Island of Islay and who learned the song aboard an English ship in 1759. It accompanied him to Morristown, NJ, where he became a lawyer and then back to North Carolina when, after leaving his grown family, he went to homestead in the wilderness. Passed down through the generations, the song had been nearly lost when Lark began her search. The author blends the historic and contemporary threads smoothly, building suspense as the story progresses. Dispelling myths about Appalachian people as uneducated hillbillies, she populates the novel with strong, talented, well-defined characters. A mystery and crime writer, McCrumb is perhaps best known for She Walks These Hills and The Ballad of Frankie Silver, which was nominated for a SEBA award. The tape quality is excellent; recommended for all public libraries. Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
There was a feeling of strong connection to the characters and their love of the mountains. My father's family moved to West Virginia from Stokes County which is in the northern part of North Carolina near the Virginia border. Their ancestors had moved from Virginia and their ancestors from England, Wales, and Ireland. One of my ancestors lived in a remote area of the North Carolina mountains and would moved further away when people moved into the area. Perhaps this story explains his actions.
This story explained why we can be emotionally drawn to a place and not understand why. Anyone remotely interested in genealogy must have had that feeling at one time or another. The reader does not need a genealogical connection to the area in the story to understand how the characters lived and to enjoy their story.
Great story. Because it was based on real people made it even better.