Saturday, December 24, 2011

Book Review: Ballad of Tom Dooley

The Ballad of Tom Dooley
By Sharyn McCrumb

Library copy

This is the story of a murder, that takes place in Wilkes County, N.C. in 1866. The murder of Laura Foster was made into a ballad by the Kingston Trio. This is what intrigued me at first to read this.

The Ballad of Tom Dooley was recommended by a event that I went to in November, hosted by Litchfield Books, in Litchfield SC, The Moveable Feast.

The other reason, I chose to read this book, was I was getting bored, reading the same thing. I wanted a change. The Ballad of Tom Dooley, was totally out of my comfort zone. At my age, you are set in your tastes of reading.  Quess What, folks!! I was wrong.  I enjoyed reading The Ballad of Tom Dooley.

Y'all think you know the story of Tom Dooley, I thought I did. But, after reading Sharyn McCrumb's version, the Kingston Trio's version falls apart at the seams.  Sharyn McCrumb did her own research, with the help of many people, including college professors, map experts, war veterans, etc.  The only reason this is not non-fiction and is considered fiction because, there was not any documentation of facts and dialog written anywhere.

Tom Dooley, know actually as Tom Dula, and his lover Anna were accused of the murder of Laura Foster.

He was a Confederate soldier, returning from the Civil war.

 Laura, and Tom were childhood sweethearts, she was a raving beauty, but she was very self centered.  Anna married James, after Tom went off to fight in the Civil War, she knew he was not a good provider.

 James Melton, was too busy working as a homesteader, he did not notice his wife fooling around with Tom, or he just turned a blinds eye, but the Appalachian Community noticed that she was fooling around.

 To add to the story, you had the narrative of two voices, Pauline was the cousin of Anna and Laua, she was a conniving, tongue wagging trouble maker, that instigated the trouble between Laura and Anna.  She moved in with Anna, while she was getting treatment for Syphillis,  and stayed for exchange for her house work.

The other narrator was the lawyer defending Tom Dula, he eventually after the trial became the NC governor.

  Both of the young ladies, if you want to call them ladies, did not have any dignity, or ethics of what was right or wrong. I think that was the way they were brought up. As well, as Tom he was a good for nothing, he did not work, and was extremely lazy, and laid on the fat of the land, and slept around.  Everyone seemed to know what was going on, but it was accepted.

 It seemed, that both parents knew that their adult 22 year old children were sleeping around, but they did not care.  But, when the horse was stolen that is when Laura's father was upset, and wanted her to be found.

 Pauline knew that Laura and Tom were not eloping, instead she knew that Laura had a beau, and she was planning on eloping the next day. Pauline asked Laura how was she going to elope. . Pauline suggested steal her father's horse. That actually was death, if you stole a horse at that time, and in that community. Her Beau was a black man by the name of Jackson, but for some reason, Pauline kept quiet.

This ultimately was the demise of Tom. Tom ultimately told his attorney that he was the only one that stabbed Laura, that Anna had nothing to do with the killing and the murder.

I am excited, as a book lover, and a book blogger that I discovered a new author. It does not  happen often. Finding someone that you would like to read again. Too bad, I discovered her too early, this year to put in my challenge.because I wanted to use this author on my challenge that I entered, Where Are You Challenge. Oh, well.

 Her writing, I did not expect to appreciate as much as I did. I had heard that she writes mysteries.  But, I found that the stories she writes are adapted from a true crime event.

From a Yankee's perspective, I did not appreciate the Appalachian mountain culture, history, and the care these people had of their land.. After I read this novel, it changed my view point of the community of that area. The only thing I knew of the Applaccian mountains, was when I was a young girl, going to Florida, we passed the mountain side of Ky, and Tn. and saw the houses on the side of the mountains. Also watching the show, The Waltons. I never had any other exposure to their culture, and have never been there.

Most of the character's I did not care for.  Because all of the characters, did not have any morals, or ethics and were not educated, knowing the difference of right or wrong.

What I liked, at the end of the book is the author's note. She told all the different perspectives and scenerios that were possible and not possible and why. The people that helped her with the research. The author's note explained the holes I did not understand.

It seems, that I am reading alot of Southern fiction lately, and I hope to find other books that capture me. I am so happy that I read this. Happy to discover a new author at the end of 2011. I am happy to say this is probably one of my favorite books of the year. I plan on posting in a few day a recap of my reading experience of 2011, with my favorite books. This is probably the fist time, that I can say, I discovered some author's that I loved, some I hated. Which I never explored before.
Happy Holidays To All My Readers, hope your reading experience this year was as good as mine. Thank you for following, and reading my blog this year. I hope you continue reading, as I do...


bermudaonion said...

I've actually met Sharyn a couple of times and she is funny and super intelligent. I can't wait to read this book.

Introverted Jen said...

I saw Sharyn speak when she released The Devil Amongst the Lawyers, and I loved what she had to say. Glad you enjoyed this one!

Churchmouse302 said...

Sharon McCrumb has written a wide variety of books. I first discovered her Elizabeth McPherson series of mysteries, well written, a little tongue-in-cheek, good humor. She also wrote two strictly-for-laughs books, "Zombies of the Gene Pool" and "Bimbos of the Death Sun," both of which are utterly delightful and funny. And then there is her Ballad Series, of which The Ballad of Tom Dooley is one. These are all based on Appalachian tales and legends and are extremely well-researched. I am glad that you have found and liked one of my favorite authors!

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