By Courtney Allen
From Courtney Allen, the author of the award-winning novel, Down From The Mountain, comes Lee County Elegy, which is an equal work in depth, character portrayal, and historical fiction. This novel follows the morally challenging account of the Grayson family, of how they survive in the rural south during the Great Depression, and by what means they overcome a life of unfavorable consequences. In the beginning, Mac Grayson suffers a critical lumberyard accident that leaves him helpless to support his farm and family. Due to the onslaught of the weakening economy, land values plummet and the bank threatens foreclosure. During a drought, a bitter dispute with a wealthy landowner concerning water access to the Flint River becomes a contentious argument, and volatile tensions mount. In order to survive, an agreement must be met, but Mac must negotiate and risk the well-being of his family to assuage their neighbor’s divisiveness. In this story, the Grayson’s are faced with few resources and endless controversies fraught with dire consequences that create challenges almost impossible to overcome. Filled with page-turning suspense and unyielding dilemmas, the ends required to endure are made by difficult choices, and the honor of each character is brought into question as the story unfolds. This depression era novel is of sorrow and redemption, struggle and hardship, of love and loss. The pace is fast, the heart of the book strong, and the ending bittersweet yet satisfyingly triumphant. For historical fiction lovers, Lee County Elegy is worth reading.
Blurb from Goodreads.
In this beautifully detailed historical novel about the depression era and the hard times that fell on everyone, we meet Myra Grayson who is the central character in the story. Maclin and Ila Mae Grayson adopted Myra when she was just 3 years old. She had two older brothers, Arden and Cade. Times were tough. Ila Mae was long ago institutionalized in another town for dementia and Myra, a young teen, was left to care for Maclin who had been in a horrible “accident” and left with permanent disabilities. She had the responsibility of caring for their home, preparing meals, and doing some of the farm work. When the depression hit, things went downhill quickly. Arden left to bring Ila Mae back home when the institution could no longer take care of her financially. Cade took off after an unfortunate incident and left Myra to fend for herself and Maclin.
Jack Waylon, their neighbor, had his eye on their land because of the natural supply of water he wanted access to for his farm. There was a long history of conflict between Maclin and Jack and Maclin refused the access and threatened Jack if he stepped foot on his land. This set the stage for the rest of the story.
I found the characters to be well developed and believable. Myra showed an incredible amount of resilience and such a soft side. At times, I felt if I could reach in and give her a hug or a pat on the back, her life would have been easier, if only for a moment. Maclin often seemed gruff but considering his situation, it made his character come to life. I felt Arden and Cade got a lot of attention in the beginning, but then, for the most part, seemed to drop out of the story, being resurrected now and again. Jack Waylon had a strong Jekyll and Hyde persona. He was a character I loved to hate, one I could have pulled out of the book and smacked around.
I had a difficult time getting into the story, unusual for one of Courtney Allen’s books. It started off slowly with a great deal of description and a story that seemed to be going nowhere. I was concerned about whether the story would ever pique my interest. As the storyline took precedence, I became intrigued and couldn’t put Lee County Elegy down.
As always, the author researched the era and the locale with great attention to detail. Though life was difficult in the cities, it was much harder felt in the rural areas. These contrasts were well documented in the story.
Because I almost lost interest before the story reeled me in, I am giving this book four stars. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
I was given a copy of Lee County Elegy by the author in exchange for my honest review.
I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review.
About the Author
Courtney Allen lives with his family in Atlanta, Georgia. He has been writing for many years and has written several other books.
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