Review by Ann McDonald
“A Long Time Gone” is a melodrama set in the South, following the lives of the Walker women of Indian Mound, Mississippi. The story is many-layered and deals with the 1920s, prohibition and right up to the present day.
Southern literature has a special feel to it and I enjoyed that aspect of the book immensely. Author Karen White is a very clever and descriptive writer and I could almost taste, smell and hear the Mississippi Delta, especially the murder of crows in her back yard.
The story opens with Vivien Walker Moise returning to her roots after her marriage crumbled, an addiction to pills and a broken heart due to the loss of a baby she miscarried. As I said, melodrama. She has never contacted her home in the nine years she has been gone, her beloved grandmother Bootsie is dead, her mother is in the early stages of dementia and a storm knocked over a beautiful old cypress tree that had loved and sheltered her since she was a child.
Vivien’s brother Tommy, her mother and Tripp Montgomery, the county coroner, are all standing over the fallen tree when Vivien arrives home with her 12 year-old stepdaughter. They inform her that the skeleton of a young woman lies tangled in the roots of the cypress tree and so begins Vivien’s journey, to find the identity of the dead girl, find out who she was and perhaps find her own redemption. So we have a neat segue into the past.
The story, or stories, are well told and interesting although I never could fathom why the Walker women would randomly just up and leave their home without as much as a word, to go and find themselves. There are some very well drawn characters in the tale and it deserves a read. It’s all neatly wrapped up in the end and I wound up liking Vivien, just a little bit.
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