Sweetgrass - Mary Alice Monroe

Sweetgrass has been home to the Blakely family for eight generation, but now they could be forced to sell.

A family with many secrets and more than it's fair share of tragedy, the Blakely clan is faced with huge change when the patriarch, Preston, is felled by a stroke.

Bit by bit we learn of the secrets each family member.

Mary Alice Monroe is renown for her extensive research about conservation issues that she weaves cleverly into her novels. Sweetgrass is no different. As we read we learn about the traditions of the South where weaving sweetgrass baskets is a long tradition, but now declining because of many of the lowland farms are being drained and turned into real estate developoments. Sweetgrass for baskets grows best in the marshy environments which cause farmers to struggle.

Sweetgrass is no different - the family has struggled to keep the farm going, but now not hurricans, not farming technique, but taxes are bringing the Blakely farm to its knees.

Entwined in the story of the family's struggle to preserve it are themes of the rise of feminism, inheritance, and the mis-interpretations we put on other's actions. The novel looks at what is happening from the point of view of the dutiful wife and mother, the estranged son, and mistakes in the past that catch-up with the present.

Not always crisply written, Sweetgrass is peppered with descriptions of the marshy lowland of the southern reaches of America around the Hurrican Belt. And every now and then Monroe delivers a magnificent line. - HS



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The Marigold Brightbutton series of five books cover Marigold's birth to her school days.

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