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A Parchment of Leaves

A Parchment of Leaves

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3.98

(78)
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Published by Workman Publishing
When Silas House made his debut with Clay's Quilt last year, it touched a nerve not just in his home state (where it quickly became a bestseller), but all across the country. Glowing reviews-from USA Today (House is letter-perfect with his first novel), to the Philadelphia Inquirer (Compelling. . . . House knows what's important and reminds us of the value of family and home, love and loyalty), to the Mobile Register (Poetic, haunting), and everywhere in between-established him as a writer to watch.

His second novel won't disappoint. Set in 1917, A PARCHMENT OF LEAVES tells the story of Vine, a beautiful Cherokee woman who marries a white man, forsaking her family and their homeland to settle in with his people and make a home in the heart of the mountains. Her mother has strange forebodings that all will not go well, and she's right. Vine is viewed as an outsider, treated with contempt by other townspeople. Add to that her brother-in-law's fixation on her, and Vine's life becomes more complicated than she could have ever imagined. In the violent turn of events that ensues, she learns what it means to forgive others and, most important, how to forgive herself.

As haunting as an old-time ballad, A PARCHMENT OF LEAVES is filled with the imagery, dialect, music, and thrumming life of the Kentucky mountains. For Silas House, whose great-grandmother was Cherokee, this novel is also a tribute to the family whose spirit formed him.

When Silas House made his debut with Clay's Quilt last year, it touched a nerve not just in his home state (where it quickly became a bestseller), but all across the country. Glowing reviews-from USA Today (House is letter-perfect with his first novel), to the Philadelphia Inquirer (Compelling. . . . House knows what's important and reminds us of the value of family and home, love and loyalty), to the Mobile Register (Poetic, haunting), and everywhere in between-established him as a writer to watch.

His second novel won't disappoint. Set in 1917, A PARCHMENT OF LEAVES tells the story of Vine, a beautiful Cherokee woman who marries a white man, forsaking her family and their homeland to settle in with his people and make a home in the heart of the mountains. Her mother has strange forebodings that all will not go well, and she's right. Vine is viewed as an outsider, treated with contempt by other townspeople. Add to that her brother-in-law's fixation on her, and Vine's life becomes more complicated than she could have ever imagined. In the violent turn of events that ensues, she learns what it means to forgive others and, most important, how to forgive herself.

As haunting as an old-time ballad, A PARCHMENT OF LEAVES is filled with the imagery, dialect, music, and thrumming life of the Kentucky mountains. For Silas House, whose great-grandmother was Cherokee, this novel is also a tribute to the family whose spirit formed him.

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Publish date: Aug 16, 2002
Added to Scribd: May 17, 2013
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reservedISBN:9781616202910
List Price: $11.99

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12/16/2014

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9781616202910

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bookdivasreads reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Every now and then I receive a book recommendation that completely surprises me (in a good way). A Parchment of Leaves by Silas House is one such book. I belong to a local book group that meets at the Charleston Town Center Mall on the last Wednesday of each month in the Community Room at Panera Bread Company (if you're in the Kanawha County area please join us). The story is set in eastern Kentucky during the early 1900s and centers on a young Cherokee woman and her experiences with her non-Cherokee husband and his family. Although there is racism evident against Cherokees, this is not the heart of this story. Vine is a beautiful young woman that becomes enamored with Saul Sullivan. Saul is just as entranced and in love with Vine and the two marry. Vine accompanies her husband to his family's land and leaves all that she has known behind. The life that Saul and Vine lead is not considered a hard-scrabble life, but they do have to work hard. They must build their own home, which they do with the assistance of neighbors and family. They grow most of the vegetables and must slaughter chickens and hogs for meat. Vine washes their clothes on rocks at the nearby creek and they obviously don't have indoor plumbing, running water or even electricity. Vine and Saul don't miss these things simply because they've never had them and it isn't expected. Saul works hard at the local mill and Vine works equally as hard keeping house. Eventually Vine gets pregnant and gives birth to a little girl they name Birdy. As World War I begins, Saul wants to help with the war effort and volunteers to work in the next county. This job means that he'll be gone for long periods of time. Vine gets along well with her mother-in-law and loves her new family. But she is also wary of her brother-in-law Aaron. He has never openly done anything, but he simply always seems to be underfoot and watching her, even when she's out in the woods or walking with friends. She is extremely cautious about Aaron but Saul thinks he's harmless. Aaron isn't exactly irresponsible, but he's never held down a job and seems to want to experience a hundred different jobs all at once. After some time Aaron leaves the family and is gone for months before returning with a wife - a young and pregnant wife. Aaron's marriage gives Vine hope that he's no longer attracted to her, until it is pointed out that his wife, Aidia, bears a strong resemblance to her.I could give you more details about the story, but I'll stop here. It is sufficient for me to note that this is an excellent portrayal of rural Appalachian life during the early 1900s. Mr. House has crafted a story that is captivating and utterly believable. This isn't a glossed-over, rose-colored view of rural life, all of the hassles, trials and tribulations are deftly revealed. I become so engrossed in the story that I had to finish it in one sitting, even staying up late to do so. Saul is initially the typical strong but silent man that openly loves his family. He becomes more outgoing as the story evolves but remains openly loving of his family. Vine isn't a traditional housewife and mother although she deals with all of the household chores with ease. Their marriage has its share of ups and downs, usually as a result of outside forces. The story is different and the voice of Vine is unique, such that A Parchment of Leaves had me in a hurry to collect more literary fiction by Mr. House.
grubbymonster reviewed this
A Parchment of Leaves is a heart-wrenching story of the hardships of Cherokee Indians and life in the Appalachian Mountains. One theme that particularly stood out in this Silas House novel was the love of the land. Vine, one of the main characters in the book is a Cherokee Indian. She was born and raised by her Cherokee parents on Redbud Camp. She was taught to be respectful to the land and use it for good, not destroying it for unmeaningful purposes. Vine looked at plants with love and admiration. Cherokee Indians were deprived of many privileges and went through turmoil with being treating equal as the "white folk". Silas House uses this personal love story as a means of showing the persistence and determination that this Cherokee Indian, Vine, had. Through her kind heart, love for the land, and bravery, Vine teaches us many valuable lessons.
rice4life reviewed this
Rated 3/5
House is so good at describing the Appalachian area. I always enjoy his down-to-earth romantic themes with a believable plot. House takes us on a trip to the early 1900s where racism existed between Indians, townies and holler people. Fantastic description of character and a respectful tribute to this era.
countrylife_1 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
This is a beautifully written story of love and family, guilt and forgiveness. The prologue and epilogue are written in third person, while the body of the story is narrated by Vine, a Cherokee descended from a group who hid during Removal and remained in their Kentucky mountains. Now the mid-1910s, big-man in town is ousting the Redbud Camp Cherokees without so much as payment for their land, taking over their mountain to build his mansion. Saul is sent to work on clearing the building area, when he meets and falls in love with Vine.I loved this book. I’m trying to work out why it spoke to me so. It’s not historically significant, or deep, or fancy in any way. It is written in very simple language. “And then I knowed that I was fooling myself. The rains of spring would not wash away what had already been done.” Simple, but with such beauty and clarity. The setting, though we still see it through Vine’s simple words, is just as lovely to my mind as it is to her eyes. You come to know her places and what she thinks of them, as if you are there, too. Her garden, the path between their home and her mother-in-law’s home, the cooling river, her old home-place – the scenery was lovingly painted. The characters were true to their time, their thoughts and motives believable. And so well described that you could see them in your mind and know how they felt. Perhaps it’s the Cherokee in me, or the fact that I spent my youthful summers in a place very similar to the area described, or that I’ve known and loved my share of Esmes. I don’t know why; I just loved it!Mr. House’s creation has a lot to like. I liked both mothers; I liked the local midwife. Not sure about the violets. Where I’m from, violets bloom in the early spring, and then just a month or two. They wouldn’t be there for the picking on a hot, sultry day. Maybe they grow a different kind in Kentucky; hope so, ‘cause I don’t want to not like anything about this book. But I forgive him if he got that wrong, because everything else felt so right, including speaking a woman’s voice – he even got that right. If you happen on this review, please go check out the CK for quotations from Parchment of Leaves so you can read some snippets from the pen of Silas House. Then I’m sure you’ll want to read his book yourself. One of my top four reads this year. I loved it!
lcbrooks_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I purchased A Parchment of Leaves on the recommendation of a local, independent book seller. I was skeptical at best: incredulous that Silas House had the audacity to think he couldeffectviely write from a woman's vantage. House proved me wrong. Not only did he effectivley convey Vine's story, but, he did so with the heart and soul of a woman. House provides enough violent detail without being gratutious or detracting. Likewise, he sprinkles in enough romance that the reader understands the love Vine and Saul share without pushing the envelope to the edge of chick lit. House ends the book at the perfect point. He left enough unanswered that I could imagine where Vine and Saul's lives were headed, but, not hungry for a sequel.
Publishers Weekly reviewed this
House offers a poignant, evocative look at the turmoil that plagues a rural Kentucky family during WWI in his solid second novel, which begins when Saul Sullivan takes a shine to a mysterious, beautiful Cherokee woman named Vine. Courtship quickly leads to marriage and a newborn girl named Birdie, but trouble surfaces when Saul's younger brother, Aaron, an unfocused dreamer who longs for a more fulfilling life than his country existence as a laborer, also becomes attracted to Vine. Aaron's opportunity to express his longings comes when Saul leaves to work at a logging camp, hoping to provide some luxuries for his family while supporting the war effort. Vine spurns Aaron's initial advances and manages to drive him away, but the younger brother returns with a young mixed-race bride from East Tennessee who looks exactly like Vine, and soon he is drinking heavily and exercising his formidable temper on his newly pregnant wife. Saul returns briefly to try to straighten out his brother but, when he departs, Aaron turns his attentions on Vine again, who shoots Aaron after he rapes her and goes after Birdie, then buries the body on top of a mountain near the family homestead. A slightly more original story line would have made this an exceptional novel, but House's lovely storytelling, graceful prose, strong characters and his feel for Southern rural life distinguish it. Agent, ICM. (Oct. 18) Forecast: Solid local sales are the bedrock on which this novel's success will rest, but strong reviews, a 15-city author tour and House's NPR connection (he is a frequent contributor) are certain to broaden House's audience. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

2002-08-05, Publishers Weekly
tjsjohanna_1 reviewed this
I love Silas House's books. This one is a great exploration of relationships - family, marriage, community. I so enjoyed watching Vine as her character grows and deals with the currents around her. Plus Mr. House has such a beautiful way of writing.
katie_h_11 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
A beautifully told story, "A Parchment of Leaves" takes the reader to the early 1900's in the Appalachian mountains. Vine, a young Cherokee woman, is the narrator, and she tells of her romance and marriage to Saul, an Irishman who lives in a nearby settlement. Many town members discriminate against her, but those in her close circle, including her mother-in-law, Esme, accept her unconditionally. Particularly disconcerting and ominous is the fixation that Saul's younger brother, Aaron has on her. He selects a wife with an uncanny resemblance to Vine, and in one horrible night, his obsession results in tragedy that changes Vine's life forever. I was able to relate to many of the characters, since portions of my family are from the same region and grew up scorned as "half-breeds," whites mixed with Shawnee blood. I enjoyed this novel immensely, and I finished it in a couple of hours. I will definitely read more by this author.
Publishers Weekly reviewed this
House offers a poignant, evocative look at the turmoil that plagues a rural Kentucky family during WWI in his solid second novel, which begins when Saul Sullivan takes a shine to a mysterious, beautiful Cherokee woman named Vine. Courtship quickly leads to marriage and a newborn girl named Birdie, but trouble surfaces when Saul's younger brother, Aaron, an unfocused dreamer who longs for a more fulfilling life than his country existence as a laborer, also becomes attracted to Vine. Aaron's opportunity to express his longings comes when Saul leaves to work at a logging camp, hoping to provide some luxuries for his family while supporting the war effort. Vine spurns Aaron's initial advances and manages to drive him away, but the younger brother returns with a young mixed-race bride from East Tennessee who looks exactly like Vine, and soon he is drinking heavily and exercising his formidable temper on his newly pregnant wife. Saul returns briefly to try to straighten out his brother but, when he departs, Aaron turns his attentions on Vine again, who shoots Aaron after he rapes her and goes after Birdie, then buries the body on top of a mountain near the family homestead. A slightly more original story line would have made this an exceptional novel, but House's lovely storytelling, graceful prose, strong characters and his feel for Southern rural life distinguish it. Agent, ICM. (Oct. 18) Forecast: Solid local sales are the bedrock on which this novel's success will rest, but strong reviews, a 15-city author tour and House's NPR connection (he is a frequent contributor) are certain to broaden House's audience. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

2002-08-05, Publishers Weekly
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