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Serena Jane’s beauty proves to be her greatest blessing and her biggest curse, for it makes her the obsession of classmate Bob Bob Morgan, the youngest in a line of Robert Morgans who have been doctors in Aberdeen for generations. Though they have long been the pillars of the community, the earliest Robert Morgan married the town witch, Tabitha Dyerson, and the location of her fabled shadow book–containing mysterious secrets for healing and darker powers–has been the subject of town gossip ever since. Bob Bob Morgan, one of Truly’s biggest tormentors, does the unthinkable to claim the prize of Serena Jane, and changes the destiny of all Aberdeen from there on.
When Serena Jane flees town and a loveless marriage to Bob Bob, it is Truly who must become the woman of a house that she did not choose and mother to her eight-year-old nephew Bobbie. Truly’s brother-in-law is relentless and brutal; he criticizes her physique and the limitations of her health as a result, and degrades her more than any one human could bear. It is only when Truly finds her calling–the ability to heal illness with herbs and naturopathic techniques–hidden within the folds of Robert Morgan’s family quilt, that she begins to regain control over her life and herself. Unearthed family secrets, however, will lead to the kind of betrayal that eventually break the Morgan family apart forever, but Truly’s reckoning with her own demons allows for both an uprooting of Aberdeen County, and the possibility of love in unexpected places.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2009 by Tiffany Baker
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Grand Central Publishing
Hachette Book Group
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New York, NY 10017
Visit our Web site at www.HachetteBrookGroup.com.
First eBook Edition: January 2009
Thank you first and foremost to Dan Lazar, my champion agent at Writers House, who always believed in this novel. And then to my sterling editor, Caryn Karmatz Rudy at Grand Central Publishing, for making my vision come true. Words aren't enough.
Thanks to everyone in the Drever clan, especially Jan, Papo, and Lala for taking the pictures and amusing the kiddies. Thanks to my own tribe: Ned, Willow, Raine, and Auden. You all are the reason for everything.
And a special remembrance for some souls who have traveled on ahead: Joe, Tommy, Mimi, Wyby, and Wendy. Peace.
Technically speaking, I guess you could say I killed Robert Morgan, but I did it only because he insisted on it, and because death had clearly already gotten its mealy hands on him, and because I knew the very act of asking must have made him madder than hell.
"Look at me," he'd cackle from the foul nest of covers on his bed, "and then take a look at you. It just doesn't seem right." I knew what he meant. Let's just say I had more than my fair share of resources shoring up my bones. "You could live through two winters back to back, Truly," he rasped. "You could swallow the whole damn world, and no one would notice."
He was lying under his great-grandmother's famous quilt, the one embroidered all over with flowers and vines, some of them nice and neat inside a diamond-edged border and the rest running riot around the edges. It was a peculiar piece of work all right. In fact, if you looked at it hard enough, you might get to thinking it was almost two quilts—the tidy, inner square worked up all careful and the crazy border that looked like a floral explosion. That's what I'd concluded, at least, after ten years of staring at the thing.
Soon enough, the doctor quit talking altogether. At first, I welcomed this development, banging into his room with trays of food I knew he couldn't eat but tormented him with anyway. "That story about the dead lady in the hippo cage?" I asked, waving a spoonful of tapioca under his nose. "It's the dumbest thing I ever heard. So what if it's true?" I watched him shake his head, then popped the pudding into my own mouth and rolled the beads across my tongue, satisfied with their slick sweetness. "For one thing, what'd they do with the hippo? And for another, you don't even know any of the details that would make the story really good. For instance, what kind of coffin did they put her in? Or did they just throw her body in the cage and pull her along to a giant hole in the ground?"
I leaned down so close, I knew he could see the tiny hairs that limned my upper lip. "Do you want to know the difference between a good story and the truth?" When he didn't respond, I went ahead and gave him the answer. "The little bits, Robert Morgan. That's all. If you get those right, you can get away with murder." I smiled and patted his arm. Then I finished off the tapioca.
After a few days, however, I found myself unsettled by the silence between us. For twenty years, I'd endured his barbs and insults, but now I could feel his stony stare roving over my flesh, as if he wanted to devour me raw. I'd watch out of the corner of my eye as he cricked his jaw open and shut like a ventriloquist's dummy, trying to make a noise and failing, and then I'd collect his untouched tray, half wishing he'd snarl at me like the old days and half hoping he wouldn't.
In spite of their best intentions, death has always had a way of stalking the Morgan men, as far back as any of them could remember, at least as far back as the history of Aberdeen. The first Robert Morgan arrived in Aberdeen from the South, just as the Civil War was winding down. In the war, he'd served as a surgeon, up until the very end when Sherman's hot swath of vengeance proved too much. Death, the first Robert Morgan decided as he followed lines of ghost-eyed soldiers through the fetid air of the South, was a perpetual motion machine—a spiked instrument of butchery that would roll on as long as there were men willing to feed it. He was not one of them.
He deserted just outside of Savannah, stowing himself in the wrecked husks of plantations and barns, making his way north via the coast, and then, when he hit Delaware, he turned inland and worked his way through the Tuscarora Mountains, all the way up to New York State. Everywhere he went, he inquired the same thing: Did anyone know a way to ward off death? He was shown crucifixes, amulets of twine and grass, rosary beads, and an eagle's feather. He would examine each object politely, then hand it back to its owner and shoulder his pack, his mind already racing ahead of him.
By the time he got to New York State, the answer to his question started to change. "I don't know 'bout scarin' death away for good," one gap-toothed farmer told him, his skin as wrinkled as linen, "but you might try askin' the folks in Aberdeen. They're all older than a bunch of mummies. If anyone's gonna know, it's them."
Intrigued, Robert Morgan accepted the man's offer of his barn for the evening, and that night, Robert Morgan slept peacefully and deep, awakening well before dawn to hoist his dwindling pack before heading the opposite direction of the sunset. He didn't have the foggiest notion where he was, but it didn't matter. For the first time since he'd deserted, Robert Morgan had a destination to get to.
When he arrived in Aberdeen at the onset of winter, he found the population of the village in the middle of an influenza epidemic, with just one woman treating them all. Her name was Tabitha Dyerson, and she was the relative of a famous witch.
"Judith Dyerson. Burned at the stake," Ebert Pickerton, the proprietor of Aberdeen's alehouse, told Robert with a wink. "A heretic. The whole family upped and left Massachusetts after that. But some say"—and here the innkeeper leaned conspiratorially close to Robert Morgan—"they brought her shadow book with 'em. That's where Tabitha gets the healing touch from."
Robert Morgan tilted back and took a blessed breath of neutral air. "Is that why everyone here lives so long? Because of old Judith's secrets?"
Ebert Pickerton's belly danced with laughter. "Hell no, son," he brayed, smacking his palm down on the counter. "That's on account of our bad tempers. The good Lord won't have us." His face fell, a balloon caving in on itself. "Lately, though, seems people in this town are dropping off like anyone else. You can go out and see for yourself." So Robert Morgan went to Mass on Sunday, toting the medical instruments he'd stolen from the army, to offer his services as a physician.
The first patient he attended was a child, a girl about nine years old. She screamed when he approached her. To the delirious child, Robert Morgan, gaunt from seven months of walking, his beard too wild for any scissors to tame, was an evil Father Christmas.
"You'd best go," the girl's father told Robert Morgan, his hand clamped firmly on the doctor's elbow. "We'll call for Tabitha."
Robert Morgan raised his eyebrows. "Your daughter needs proper medical supervision."
The man just shrugged, opened the door, and ushered Robert Morgan into the miserable November cold. "Tabby has herbs," he said. "They've worked before."
Robert Morgan acquired his second patient after a thorough session with Aberdeen's barber. This time it was an ailing grandmother, down with the flu. Seventy-three and prune-faced, she lay stoutly in a brass bedstead—the bed she'd been born in and the bed she was prepared to die in—watching as Robert Morgan unwrapped his instruments. Her beady eyes roved over him like a chicken guarding an egg. "Please," she whimpered. "I want Tabitha." Robert Morgan sighed deeply—a great defeated wind sinking to his boot tips—and wrapped his instruments back in their chamois. Her hulking son gave an apologetic half-smile. Tabitha, at least, wouldn't charge anything expect maybe a pumpkin or two or a loaf of his wife's molasses bread.
Robert Morgan retreated to the shadow-shrouded back room he had taken at Widow Dunfry's house with a small bottle of whiskey wrapped neatly in plain brown paper. So far, Aberdeen had stonewalled his search for longevity, refused his good-intentioned attempts to cure, and even its weather was foul.
Robert Morgan took another, bitter swill of Ebert's homemade whiskey and sank farther into the widow's mildewed armchair, reviewing the afternoon's case. Tabby has herbs, he recalled the little girl's father saying. Robert Morgan snorted, expelling a small plug of snot. Skullduggery, that's what it was. He tipped the bottle back to his lips, upending it. The liquid ignited in his throat like a firecracker. He pursed his lips, the sear ghost of rye singeing the insides of his cheeks, his nose, and the secret canals of his ears.
When he woke, he found himself in bed. He hitched himself onto his elbows, feeling his eyes swim in his head, losing his balance. Then he realized he wasn't alone.
The diminutive woman sitting in the corner sighed, put down her knitting, and walked over to him. She reached under his wrist to test his pulse with lily-stalk fingers. "You're over the worst," she told him, sweeping back to her place in the corner, her skirts whispering like contrary angels. "When you can, you should bathe." She began to leave.
"Wait," Robert Morgan cried, his voice muted by phlegm. "How ill have I been?"
The woman cocked her head. "You're over the worst," she said again. "You'll soon be better."
Robert Morgan hitched himself onto his elbows again, wavering. "You're the witch."
Tabitha Dyerson drew herself straight, narrowing her eyes like a snake getting ready to strike. "I'm as Christian as you are, sir," she snapped. "Possibly even more so. You owe me your life."
It wasn't until hours later that Robert Morgan realized she'd taken the last of Ebert Pickerton's whiskey with her.
She lived on a farm on the outskirts of town, Robert Morgan learned, with her father and brother, the father swimming in the mad sea of old age, the brother a recluse since he'd returned from the war. Robert Morgan trudged over the rough track of mud that served as a road, announcing his presence at her door with three harsh knocks, the only kind he knew how to give anymore. His bare knuckles stung from the cold.
She spied him from the window and answered the door warily, her hands clutching the wood. From around the sides of her seeped the scent of lemons, of gingerbread and camphor. Feminine odors that Robert Morgan had forgotten existed in the world.
"You've recovered." Her voice rang as flat as his raps on the door. Robert Morgan produced from his pocket an apple— a gnarled piece of fruit, but an offering all the same.
Tabitha received it warily, tucking it in the depths of her apron. "Do you have a specific reason for calling?"
Robert Morgan could feel the heat radiating out of the house and sensed that she was impatient to be rid of him. He listed on his cracked boot heels like a ship about to sink, then brought an arm forward to steady himself. Slowly, the world settled back into some semblance of order, the porch boards still warped, the chimney still aslant, but all the pieces more or less fitted together. It was probably, Robert Morgan decided, as close as he would ever again come to being arranged. Tabitha folded her arms and waited. "I have come," he stammered, "with a proposal."
They were married on Michaelmas, the ceremony witnessed by Widow Dunfry and Ebert Pickerton. They celebrated Christmas with a goose and chestnut stuffing. The brother drank too much cider and wheeled about on the wooden leg he would never get used to. The father slumbered over his dish, and Robert retired early to the corner of the parlor he had transformed into a makeshift laboratory. No one sang.
Three things amazed Robert Morgan about his new life. The first was that no one asked him about his past. The people of Aberdeen just seemed to regard him as Tabitha Dyerson's new husband, and a prior existence neither occurred nor mattered to them. The second thing that needled him was that even though he was a doctor, he had yet to heal one single patient in the town. His remedies either failed, or the people dumped his powders in their chicken feed. They unwound his bandages and replaced them with Tabitha's poultices made from crushed wolfsbane and pig's urine.
The final source of wonder, of course, was his wife. Impervious to the wild whip of a New England winter, moon-skinned under the covers when he took her at night, circumspect in all matters relating to herself. With her father, she was patient, forgiving; with her brother, resolved; and with Robert Morgan, she was serene.
"Tell me what your earliest memory is," he demanded one night after lovemaking. The air outside was so cold, the stars appeared to be shivering.
Tabitha loosed one of her arms from the sheets and brushed a piece of hair away from her eyes. When she spoke, her breath escaped in a visible wisp. "Gathering herbs," she said. "An iron pot bubbling on the fire. The odor of wet leaves." She half closed her eyes and smiled but offered no elaboration.
"What is your favorite food?" Robert Morgan asked. They'd been married only a short time, but she already knew that he liked venison stew with nutmeg and juniper berries, that he preferred whiskey to ale, soda bread to brown, while he could only guess at her tastes. It bothered him a little, this advantage she had over him.
Tabitha stretched one of her long arms toward him, and he grew excited at the thought of her touch, but she merely re- arranged the blankets closer around her chin. "I eat the same as you, husband," she whispered. "We are one flesh now. Please, let's sleep."
On his better days, Robert Morgan indulged her behavior, told himself he was lucky to have wed an obedient and untroublesome woman. On his bad days, he skulked in the parlor, cursing her witch blood.
By June, Tabitha's belly was drum-tight under her altered skirts, the baby riding so high that Robert Morgan was certain it must be a girl. Tabitha merely murmured over his predictions. She dreamed whole afternoons away, wrapped in the floral quilt her grandmother had begun. Sometimes, Robert Morgan found her replacing the batting, mending the quilt's weak seams, shoring them up for the generations.
He moved them into town, and when people called at the new house, it was Robert who greeted them, ushering them into the parlor's laboratory, asking them to breathe against the discerning disk of his stethoscope. On the shelf above his head, he had jars of tablets ordered from Boston, powders from New York. He had a canister of ether and a paper cone to administer it. When Tabitha's father died, Robert Morgan turned his room into an examining office and then built a whole separate cottage in the back for his practice. He quit accepting eggs and skeins of yarn for payment, demanding a deposit of silver up front. It took only the turning away and subsequent death of one young mother, spotted with fever, for the town to learn that death is an impatient master. Even the poorer households acquired clocks and began putting pennies in the bank for the hours the doctor charged.
By the time his son, Bertie, was five, Robert Morgan had hired a young man to keep his books and appointments. He had finished the cottage in back of the house and turned it into an office and an examining room. The recalcitrant brother moved back to the defunct farm. Tabitha had two more children after Bertie. With each successive pregnancy, she grew quieter and quieter, until she finally ceased to speak at all. The bouquets of herbs she was accustomed to fix to the rafters lost their shape, then their color, and finally relinquished their earthy scents, crumbling into twigs and dust. She stayed in her room, working at her quilt, adding pieces, making it bigger so that its ends draped off the bed and swept the dusty floor. Tabitha lay in the covers, wishing her arms had no bones.
Occasionally, Robert Morgan savaged the house looking for old Judith's shadow book, the one Ebert Pickerton told him about on his first day in town. He ripped apart the larder, biting indiscriminately into pork pies and wedges of cheese. He knocked down the woodpile, upended Tabitha's linen cupboard. He pried apart floorboards, thumbed page by page through the family Bible, then burned the whole thing. He ordered a new Bible from Boston, and when it arrived, it was bound in supple calfskin, its pages gilded, the cover embossed with his initials and his alone, in real gold. He penned the names of his children inside, flourishing the dips and curls of the letters, lining them up perfectly on the page, but he left Tabitha Dyerson the witch, the crone he'd tried to make a Morgan, off the family register.
At church, Robert Morgan's lips moved, but it wasn't the words of God he was uttering. Instead, he was silently cataloging his stores to himself: carbolic powder, laudanum, aspirin, alcohol, ether. In his experience, salvation came droplet-sized, issued from the pinched nose of a beaker, from tiny grains of granules measured and slid into an envelope. The prospect of heaven had been bottled and stoppered by him and his brethren. It was easily dispensed.
One morning, while shaving, he ran the razor over himself by feel, averting his gaze from the aging stranger in the glass, and when he turned back to his image, he found he'd nicked himself. A trickle of blood wormed its way down a crease on his face and cavorted along his jaw. He turned to Tabitha, but she was marooned in a melancholic swamp in the middle of their bed, her brow as smooth as an egg. She ignored him. Her hands were twisting and turning, knotting and looping. Under them, as if by magic, the outlines of nightshade, belladonna, and hemlock bloomed in silken leaves across the quilt. A mortal garden stitched for the immortal soul.
Robert Morgan thrust his jaw out toward his wife. "Help," he demanded crossly, and received the press of Tabby's little fingers, wrapped in a square of cast-off linen. As if by magic, the blood stopped, and Robert Morgan scowled. He wondered briefly how Tabitha did it, but the clock downstairs chimed, and he rushed to put on his hat. For him, knowledge was a plain thing, like a neatly labeled bottle, transparent and tucked on a shelf. It was not in his character to pick and follow the threads of an idea like a woman unraveling a skein of yarn. Besides, he was running late.
"Thank you," he growled, and loped out of the room, his thoughts already on salvation, his belief that he was in charge of dying in the town of Aberdeen fully intact—an idea that would persist for the next hundred and fifty years until I came along and overturned the apple cart of history.
Even before I emerged from my mother's womb in 1953, people began warning my mother that the infant she carried was going to be huge. "It's bound to be a boy!" Reverend Pickerton boomed at her after church when she was only four months pregnant, laying his stout fingers on her stomach. The world, it seemed to her, had been transformed into pairs of groping hands.
"He's already rough-and-tumble!" Reverend Pickerton chortled, patting my mother's belly. As if in reply, I tilted and spun in her uterus. My mother was so enormous that Robert Morgan IV had checked her twice to make sure she wasn't carrying twins.
"I just can't believe it," he said again and again, shaking his head. "A baby this big. It's bound to be some kind of record." When his own wife gave birth to a hefty boy a year and a half before (another Robert, called Bob Bob), her abdomen had been only the size of a melon. Nevertheless, Dr. Morgan heard only one heartbeat, one fetus growing in Lily. Unless, of course, he thought, the baby had somehow devoured its twin, winding itself into its sibling, a possibility the doctor didn't present to my mother.
By midsummer, her wrists and ankles sloshed with fluids. Her knees were so puffy, it was painful to bend them. Her breasts were two cones. She was ravenous all the time, eating the strangest things in spite of herself—jelly and raisins on rye bread, anchovy and mustard sandwiches, lime-flavored gelatin with bits of ham and sweet potato floating in it. Her thighs expanded, turning gummy and pale. Her fingers plumped into sausages. My sister, Serena Jane, was two years old and no longer liked to sit on her lap. Her tiny fists prodded my mother's legs, searching for the old, slender ones. "Bad bump." It was Serena Jane's opinion that I was consuming my mother and would eventually fill her all the way up.
My mother sighed and slid Serena Jane back onto the floor. Of all the trials of motherhood, she'd been the most unprepared for the critical scrutiny of a toddler. Serena Jane screamed when my mother read her the wrong story at night. She combed her fingers over my mother's face, outlining every crease and fold. She inspected the cheese sandwiches my mother made her at lunch with the offended air of a restaurant critic, whining if the crusts were still on. My mother could only imagine her daughter's reaction to a bald, squalling infant. She ran her palm over Serena Jane's butterfly hair and tried not to care when my sister yanked her head away. My mother sighed again.
"Don't be silly," she said. "I had a bump with you, too. I was round before you came out." But they both knew she was lying. This time was different. Something really was eating her from the inside out.
Dr. Morgan found the lump in my mother's breast in the eighth month of her pregnancy, four weeks before she was due to deliver. It rolled under his palm like a hard-boiled quail's egg. My mother cried out from the pressure.
"How long?" he asked, pushing his glasses up on his nose, as if they would make the elements of the situation clearer.
My mother bowed her head. Her neck wattled. "About three months."
"This size the whole time?"
My mother shook her head. "It's gotten bigger." Bob Morgan sighed, and that single exhalation told my mother everything she needed to know. She splayed her knees on the examining table and contemplated the reproduction going on inside her body—copies of copies of copies, a garbled message being passed around her organs. An unbreakable code.
She refused offers of a ride home. She wobbled down Bob Morgan's porch steps, her knees as flexible as rubber bands, and waved to Maureen and little Bob Bob, who were cavorting in the sprinklers by the side of the house. Bees weighted with nectar hung in the hedges. Bob Bob, his buttocks swaddled in a diaper, scooted over to my mother and hugged her around her calves, throwing her off balance.
"No, darling," Maureen scolded him gently, detaching his fingers from my mother's puffy legs and flashing a weary smile at her full-mooned face. "I'm sorry," she said, her eyes roving the mountainous curves of my mother's body. "He's completely uncontrollable. He just wants what he wants. I can't keep up."
My mother looked down toward her feet, toward Bob Bob, but her monstrous belly, her mutinous breasts, blocked her view. She felt the child's wormy fingers trying to creep in between her own, and she opened her hand wider.
"It's okay," she told Maureen, moving her palm up to her belly. "You don't have to explain." After all, she'd just learned that even something microscopic could have an unstoppable will.
When her labor began, my mother was brushing Serena Jane's baby-floss hair. Serena Jane was beautiful, my mother knew, a miracle of physical arrangement—perfect eyes, perfect pearls of teeth framed with a cupid mouth. The girl should be in pictures, my father used to chortle, hoisting Serena Jane up as if to display her to an adoring crowd. It pleased him no end to have produced a commodity like my sister. He took almost as much delight in the starched baby ruffles, the rose-patterned, crocheted toddler clothing, as my mother did. He was an ordinary citizen, a small-town barber, but he had produced a princess, a queen. And soon, to go with the little monarch, there would be a prince.
"Put her down," my mother scolded. "I'm not done." In her hands, a limp length of pink ribbon drooped like a tired tongue. My father deposited Serena Jane back on the bureau top, where she stood with eyes fixed, limbs poised, as if waiting to receive a benediction. My mother anointed Serena Jane's hair with a double-looped bow. Her fingers looked as if they were wrapping a present they couldn't wait to give away. "There!" she said, sunbeams in her voice. She turned Serena Jane to the mirror, angling her small body from side to side. "Who looks pretty?"
Serena Jane merely blinked. She knew she was pretty. She accepted it as her due. In the summer heat, at birthday parties or picnics, when other little girls' clothes were sticky and smeared with cake, hers remained buttoned and pristine, crisp as sails on an arctic lake.
The mothers of Aberdeen sighed and envied my mother. They didn't know that every night she stayed up late—sometimes till two in the morning—devising ever more elaborate costumes to set off her daughter's remarkable beauty. While my father slumbered beside her, she squinted in her weak pool of bedside light and smocked the fronts of dresses. She embarked on a marathon of embroidery, embellishing Serena Jane's new winter coat with rosebuds and silk ladybugs. She crimped extra ruffles onto cuffs, edged collars with ribbon, replaced plain bone buttons with mother-of-pearl. When she finished stitching, when her hands ached, she would climb out of bed and iron the layers of Serena Jane's clothing for the coming day.
Only when the little shoes were spit shined, the socks rolled together just so, did she haul her huge self back into bed and allow sleep to claim her. Although she hadn't said so to my father, or to anyone, for that matter, she was looking forward to the birth of a boy, to a creature she would not have to decorate every day like a cake. Then she drifted into the mire of pregnant sleep, her dreams muddied with bats, and baseballs, and vibrating with the hopeful color blue.
Take her," my mother said to my father, handing over a stiff-legged Serena Jane when she felt the first pain claw at her back like an impatient animal. It was a Sunday in July, the air sticky, unpleasant, and inclined to fight its way down into people's lungs instead of sliding. The pain was two weeks early. My mother grabbed the nicked edge of the bureau and tried to hold on while another jolt jigged through her with molten feet, then she staggered her way into the bedroom, where her water broke. Saucer-eyed, my father and Serena Jane stared at her. "Don't just stand there like twin monkeys," she barked. "Go get me Bob Morgan."
By the time my father returned, my mother had smashed the Union Oil alarm clock, her bedside lamp, a vase of flowers, and gone on to shred the sheets. Bob Morgan found her in a knot on the floor, gnawing at the cotton, her hair a conflagration around her face and neck. A lodestone of calm and reason, he set down his black bag and turned to my father and my sister.
- Grabs you from its astonishing beginning to its riveting conclusion. Its charms are multitude-- a wholly unique love story, a devastating friendship, a bewitching multi-generational history... A must-read. --Sara Gruen, author of WATER FOR ELEPHANTS
- "Mixes the exuberant eccentricities of John Irving, Anne Tyler's relationship savvy and Margaret Atwood." (PW, Starred Review)
- A beautiful, startling and wholly original novel, LGOAC is infused with magic, lush language, and surprises on every page. This book is a treasure. --Stephanie Kallos, author of BROKEN FOR YOU
- A bracing, bright, masterful debut, Tiffany Baker is a writer to watch. --Joshilyn Jackson, author of THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING
- "This fun, folkloric story is part Ugly Duckling, part Tim Burton's Big Fish.... For anyone looking to vanquish the cruelties of the real world, this one's for you." (Marie Claire)
- "A little pearl of a book... like buried treasure." (The Dallas Morning News)
- "Baker's writing is beautiful. Her descriptive style crafts Truly's emotions into sentences that are hidden treasures." (The Las Vegas Review-Journal)
- "An alluring plot... lush voice... Baker has a good sense of the dark comedy of melodrama." (Washington Post)
- "One splendid book... Pick of the week." (Boston Sunday Globe)
- "First-time novelist Tiffany Baker uses the omniscient first-person narrator with ease. Although written in the past tense, the straightforward timeline construction manages to deliver for its characters a fairy-tale quality of coming, going and being all at once. Truly's wisdom and self-possession are the charm." (The San Francisco Chronicle)
- "Tiffany Baker poured her whole heart into this weird and wonderful first novel-- and the result resembles its heroine: ungainly but magical; grotesque but true." (Chicago Sun-Times)
- "But the brilliant part of this book is the colorful world of Aberdeen that Baker constructs; she weaves together a multitude of little bits to fashion one genuinely entertaining story." (Wisconsin State Journal)
- "Truly Plaice is a heroine for our times. She is also a mercy killer, a healer, a loyal and loving friend, aunt and sister and the star of an enchanting first novel." (USA Today)
- On Sale
- Jan 25, 2010
- Page Count
- 368 pages
- Grand Central Publishing