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About the Author

Lesley M. M. Blume is the critically acclaimed author of Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters and The Rising Star of Rusty Nail. She lives in New York City.


Gr 6-8-Emery has dumped his two daughters at his family's ghostly, crumbling ancestral plantation home with his peculiar sister and brother-in-law who are most unhappy to host the girls while he searches for his wife, who has left the family. The house itself seems to respond to the needs and fears of the sisters and begins to slowly draw 11-year-old Tennyson into its legacy through dreams of its past grandeurs and sorrows. The story is set during the Great Depression when the South is still reeling from the economic devastation of the Civil War. Tennyson is desperate to find her mother and hatches a scheme to reach her by having articles published in her mother's favorite literary magazine. Blume has an impressive command of the English language, but the story is too contrived. The manuscripts Tennyson sends to the magazine are written on old sheet music, so it's highly unlikely that a distinguished literary magazine would even consider such work. The characters run the gamut of Southern stereotypes, from the cruel white master and the silver-stealing slaves who appear in Tennyson's dreams to the aunt and uncle who are trying to get restitution from the federal government for losses incurred during the Civil War and a faithful retainer who is a descendant of the family's slaves. It's unfortunate that the author's considerable writing talent lacks a stronger plot.-Nancy Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, January 7, 2008:
"The writing offers its own hypnotic montage of poetic images, turning stereotypes into archetypes." Review, The New York Times Book Review, March 16, 2008:
"Aigredoux itself, with its towering columns and 'Spanish moss...looking like ghost clothes that had been flung up there to dry, ' comes to life beautifully."

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