Canterbury Bells

Canterbury Bells
Canterbury Bells represent Gratitude in the Language of Flowers

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew

The Dry Grass of August  by Anna Jean Mayhew is a wonderful book that can be appreciated on so many levels. It is a slice of life in the 50’s of our country's social history as well as the story of a family experiencing the personal crisis of infidelity that knows no timeline.

I loved Jubie Watts’ voice, a thirteen-year old who has the innocence of a child as well as the wisdom of an observant adult. A one-line comment from Jubie's perspective tells so much. Jubie's love for the family’s domestic helper, Mary Luther, is evident in every gesture and this novel becomes a page-turner with the foreboding of Mary’s destiny that begins on page one.

Author Mayhew is also a master of describing simple and seemingly insignificant behaviors of her characters that reveal in one gesture or look what other often take paragraphs to tell.

If you grew up in the 50's you'll love reliving the cultural detailed references to every-day life. If you did not, you will soon have a valid picture of the 50's culture, from music to soda pop to hairstyles, clothing, after-shave and perfume. It is a sensory novel seen through Jubie’s eyes and ears—you can almost taste the food, smell the flowers blooming in the south and feel the oppressive heat and humidity of a sweltering August day in Georgia.

From Isaiah five comes the quote, “...and as dry grass sinks down in flame...”,speaking of those who do evil. Many evil things took place in the South in the 50’s, yet from that time comes a beautiful story of a young Jubie’s love for Mary that caused her to do what was right in spite of great risk.

I highly recommend this book. If you liked The Help you'll love this. Mayhew's bio says it was some 18 years in the making...thank you Anna for persisting to bring this story to us.

1 comment:

  1. Violetta, thank you for this lovely review. And just for you and your readers, the quote from Isaiah 5 (Revised Standard Version of the Bible) actually came after I had the title, which I took from "Star-fall," a poem by Robert Penn Warren, in a bit of serendipity. I already had the quote from Isaiah 5, but had originally used the King James Bible; when I consulted the Revised Standard, I found the words "dry grass" and was surprised and delighted, because it confirmed that I had found the right title for my book. Yes, 18 years to write, and 24 years from first paragraph to print...writing is not a profession for the faint of heart. Again, I so appreciate your fine review!