Lesley M. M. Blume, Author . Knopf $15.99 (228p) ISBN 978-0-375-84703-5

Propelled by eccentric characters and mysterious events, Blume’s (Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters ) lush novel set during the Depression portrays a Southern family haunted by its ancestors’ sins. When her mother runs away from their remote home, Innisfree, to become a writer, 11-year-old Tennyson and her younger sister are sent to Aigredoux, the dangerously dilapidated estate now owned by their father’s sister, Henrietta, and her husband, Uncle Twigs, aristocratic Southerners on the brink of bankruptcy; their father, who has broken with Henrietta, plans to find their mother. Soon Tennyson begins dreaming of disturbing, real-life scenes that occurred at Aigredoux when it was a grand Louisiana plantation and also during the Civil War, and she realizes that the history that Henrietta is so proud of is entwined with slavery and complicated acts of betrayal. Inspired, Tennyson fashions stories out of the dreams and sends them to the publisher her mother most reveres; she is certain that she can infiltrate her mother’s “dream” of being a writer in order to call her back. Despite the plot’s strong suggestion of Southern gothic and of early Truman Capote, the writing offers its own hypnotic montage of poetic images, turning stereotypes into archetypes. The abruptness and abstraction of the ending, which leaves Tennyson with less immediate happiness than she might deserve, may disappoint the target audience; older readers are likelier to appreciate the bittersweet aftertaste. Ages 8-12. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 01/07/2008
Release date: 01/01/2008
Genre: Children's
Library Binding - 228 pages - 978-0-375-94703-2
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-375-84934-3
Paperback - 228 pages - 978-0-440-24061-7
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