A sequel to the author's The Train to Estelline (1987 - not
reviewed) - part of a trilogy that chronicles the coping of a
four-square, sunny young woman from a small Texas town in the years
just before WW I. Here, Lacy Richards, returned from teaching in
West Texas, is boisterously courted, then marries, and moves to
Arkansas, where she witnesses terrible racial violence and loses a
young friend. Lacy, disappointed in love (the man she adored
married her own sister) settles into the Bonham, Texas, household
happily. Days at the family hardware store and house hum along
busily - but then enter hearty Josh Arnold. It is Josh who rescues
Jeremiah, a white teen-ager raised by black Queenie, who found him
as an abandoned tot. The fact of a black-white household, even a
mother and son one, fuels some angry buzzing in Bonham, but when
Lucy and Josh marry and move to Sweet Shrub, Arkansas, where Josh
will be principal of the school, the hostility between the majority
of white and exploited black farmers ignites into a terror of
cruelty and slaughter. And Jeremiah, removed by Josh with Queenie's
blessing to be raised "white," prefers not to be - and, in the
hubbub, disappears. A grim incident swallowed into a decorous,
appealingly apple-cheeked account of cozy domestics with lively
ladies and all those tinkling iced teas. (Kirkus Reviews)
Together for the first time as a classic Texas trilogy: The Train
to Estelline A Place Called Sweet Shrub Dance a Little Longer The
Lucinda "Lucy" Richards trilogy, spanning the years from 1911 to
the 1930s, has everything good books should have: a variety of
landscapes, characters of all ages and social classes, an overall
tenderness that never lapses into sentimentality, and a sense of
the comic amidst the tragic. Lucy is feisty, funny, and completely
open-armed about life. Josh passionately confronts danger and greed
and prejudice with courage and humor and, sometimes, with bare
fists. Even the minor characters are so rife with color that you
first turn the pages quickly to see what they will do next and,
then, you turn them slowly so as to savor each page of this
remarkable trilogy. In 1915 it has been three years since Lucy
Richards left her teaching post in West Texas and returned home
where she is busy being indispensable to her eccentric mother,
keeping her Aunt Catherine comfortable, and taking on many of the
chores her very pregnant sister no longer feels up to. She decides
to choose a husband from the local beaus, but none of them stand a
chance when handsome, irreverent Josh Arnold comes to town. The
newlyweds move to the sleepy hamlet of Sweet Shrub, Arkansas, where
they are soon caught up in the lives of their neighbors and
discover that the surface tranquility of the town hides simmering
tensions and unrest that will inevitably result in tragedy.
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