cover image Coleman Hill

Coleman Hill

Kim Coleman Foote. SJP Lit, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-1-63893-114-0

Foote debuts with a gleaming, partly fictionalized account of her family’s history. At the center are Celia Coleman and Lucy Grimes, who meet in the early 1900s on a train leaving the Jim Crow South for New Jersey and become caught in a tragic cycle of domestic violence, alcohol abuse, and poverty. Celia’s husband, Jim, left Alabama and, after establishing himself, sent for Celia and their children to join him. But Jim soon dies, leaving Celia to support her children on a maid’s salary. Celia takes up Jim’s whiskey habit to cope with the cold winters and her own grief, rage, and exhaustion. Lucy—similarly widowed and deeply religious—has a daughter who becomes pregnant by Celia’s son, Jeb—who “unlike Jim, took out his woes on his wife, not his two little sons”—resulting in a marriage that tenuously unites the two families. The women’s will to survive sustains the generations, despite the many dangers they endure—and the ones they themselves inflict. Gripping, poetic, and with a big heart, it’s a memorable work of grim determination and surprising optimism. This is book club gold. Agent: Dorian Karchmar, WME. (Sept.)