My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm conflicted about this novel. I wanted to like it. A lot. The writing is lovely and lyrical, the sense of place is reminiscent of novels like The Yearling, Their Eyes Were Watching God, even A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Stories of community and struggle and family.
Verble's debut novel brings to life the hardscrabble Cherokee and Seminole communities of Oklahoma in the 1920s. Maud Nail is part of that community, living on the government allotment given to her family by the US government, a valuable commodity for people who've had everything taken away from them.
When a handsome peddler with a wagon full of goods comes down Maud's section line she's immediately attracted to him. Booker represents all she desires--learning, city life, an existence with indoor plumbing and modern temptations like bobbed hair and short dresses. Most importantly, he has books, and it's her love of reading that brings the spark between them to life.
As I said, I wanted to love it more than I did. Maud's love of books and desire to better herself resonated with me. The descriptions of life in her community were spot-on. But at the end of the novel I was dissatisfied with Maud's inability to seize control of her own destiny. The action at the end seemed rushed and even somewhat incoherent. She gave up something that could have made her future secure for a future that seems tenuous at best. I simply could not be satisfied with what came across as a weak action from a character who up until that point had been strong and durable.
However, I enjoyed Ms. Verble's writing immensely, and I look forward to seeing more from her in the future. Maud's Line is a promising debut novel.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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