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On Agate Hill
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Molly Petree, orphaned by the Civil War, is by her own definition "a spitfire and a burden. I do not care. My family is a dead family, and this is not my home, for I am a refugee girl."

Raised in the ruins of a once prosperous plantation on Agate Hill in North Carolina, she's a refugee who has no interest in self-pity. To document her headstrong life, she collects its artifacts—her lifelong diaries, letters, poems, songs, newspaper clippings, court records, marbles, rocks, dolls, bones (some human, some not).

When a mysterious benefactor appears out of her father's past to rescue her, teenaged Molly Petree never looks back. Taking what she is offered, she saves herself and then risks everything to hold true to her nature and to true love. She casts aside two prosperous, well-born suitors to marry a dashing—and philandering—mountaineer only to be accused of his murder. The end of Molly Petree's story is as unpredictable and as passionate as her own wide-open heart.

Spanning half a century, Lee Smith's portrait of a fiery Southern woman recalls the South from Reconstruction to the Roaring Twenties—and, in the process, gives us Molly Petree, living and breathing, gripping the reader's arm as the story unfolds.
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History buffs will delight in this lush tale of a Southern teenager orphaned by the Civil War, raised first by an uncle, then sent to boarding school. Molly becomes a teacher and forsakes it all to marry an uneducated ladies' man. The description is intense, and the pace is so slow that you drink in every word, almost without realizing how far the plot has progressed. Giving the horrors she witnessed short shrift, Molly worries more about a sick friend who, listeners realize, is obviously dead by now. Once Molly's uncle dies, the blacks who were once slaves (and are treated like slaves by some in her house) become her closest allies. Despite its charm, the premise of this book--a journal and letters discovered in an old house by a college girl who hopes to use them as a basis for her thesis--is flimsy. Another failing is that the various voices are never credited on the packaging (or even on the publisher's web site). Actors and actresses are integral to this audiobook's flow and deserve better. Recommended for most collections and especially for Southern libraries.--Rochelle Ratner, formerly with Soho Weekly News, New York Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

" She is nothing less than masterly. . . . Smith brings to [her work] an ear for speech and voice that most other writers can only envy." -- "The New York Times Book Review" "She is nothing less than masterly. . . . Smith brings to [her work] an ear for speech and voice that most other writers can only envy." --"The New York Times Book Review" "Smith plays with authorial antecedents and literary references from Charlotte Bronte, Faulkner and Milton, and there are echoes of Dickens and Henry James. . . . In On Agate Hill, author Smith is in full command of her talent for strong stories and evocative characters, and her always fine, shining prose is extra-pearly here. . . . Lee Smith has never written a lousy book; she may never have written a lousy sentence. And so, to declare this novel her best yet--well, that's saying something. On Agate Hill is more ambitious than Family Linen and more exquisitely crafted than Oral History. . . . Smith is such a beautiful writer, tough and full of grace, that soon you are lost in the half-light of Molly's haunted landscape, listening to the voices of the ghosts, wishing they'd let you stay longer." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution "On Agate Hill is a masterpiece and may come to be considered a more important novel than even Smith's wonderful Fair and Tender Ladies. . . . Somebody should give a copy of this book to a member of the Nobel committee." --Donald Harrington, The News and Observer "An authentic American saga, bittersweet as an Appalachian ballad, peopled with wonderfully vivid characters, so brilliantly constructed we never even notice the quilt-like artfulness of its design. One of those books you can either roam contentedly around in for days, or devour at once, in a rush of pure pleasure." --"Kirkus" "Set among the ashes of the Civil War, Lee Smith's new novel brings a dead world blazingly to life. . . . A book that seeks to rejuvenate the rapt early reader in us all. . . . [Lee Smith] is a subtly intrepid and challenging storyteller."--Washington Post Book World " Set among the ashes of the Civil War, Lee Smith's new novel brings a dead world blazingly to life. . . . A book that seeks to rejuvenate the rapt early reader in us all. . . . [Lee Smith] is a subtly intrepid and challenging storyteller." -- Washington Post Book World " Smith plays with authorial antecedents and literary references from Charlotte Bronte, Faulkner and Milton, and there are echoes of Dickens and Henry James. . . . In On Agate Hill, author Smith is in full command of her talent for strong stories and evocative characters, and her always fine, shining prose is extra-pearly here. . . . Lee Smith has never written a lousy book; she may never have written a lousy sentence. And so, to declare this novel her best yet--well, that's saying something. On Agate Hill is more ambitious than Family Linen and more exquisitely crafted than Oral History. . . . Smith is such a beautiful writer, tough and full of grace, that soon you are lost in the half-light of Molly's haunted landscape, listening to the voices of the ghosts, wishing they'd let you stay longer." -- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution " On Agate Hill is a masterpiece and may come to be considered a more important novel than even Smith's wonderful Fair and Tender Ladies. . . . Somebody should give a copy of this book to a member of the Nobel committee." -- Donald Harrington, The News and Observer " An authentic American saga, bittersweet as an Appalachian ballad, peopled with wonderfully vivid characters, so brilliantly constructed we never even notice the quilt-like artfulness of its design. One of those books you can either roam contentedly around in for days, or devour at once, in a rush of pure pleasure." -- "Kirkus"

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