Cold Sassy Tree – Olive Ann Burns

I finally finished this wonderful book. After many nights spent reading only a page or two before drifting off to sleep, a plane ride to Houston finally gave me the block of time I needed to conclude a fantastic Southern tale. I have stated many times before that Southern lit is my absolute favorite genre to enjoy. Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns definitely did not disappoint and was a great read.

Based on a fictional town in Georgia during the early 1900s, the story traces family struggles, the advent of the automobile, love, and unlikely relationships that exist in a small, tight knit town. The book is narrated through the eyes and voice of Will Tweedy, a 14-year-old with more wisdom than many of the other characters and an excessive dose of gumption. The story begins with the death of Will Tweedy’s dear grandmother, which is immediately followed by the remarrying of his grandfather to a much younger woman before her body is even cold.

Enoch Blakeslee (the grandfather) is an absolute character and perhaps my favorite in the book. We learn more about the unique relationship with his new wife (Miss Love Simpson) as their relationship progresses from a business exchange for a housekeeper to a burgeoning and unexpected romance.

The book is both funny and heart-wrenching, and to me that combination makes for a dynamic read. If you love southern tales and reading about fascinating times in history — like when a city got its first automobile — you will enjoy this book.  The author intended to write a sequel to the story, but the book was never finished before her death.

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