And to an extent, this church-or-music-heaven-or-hell-there's-no-meeting-of-the-two kind of culture is still out there. This book just left me a little frustrated. All the characters could get confusing at times, but my copy had a family tree at the front and the back. Each one has something to contribute to the church vs fiddle feud, whether it's "I used to be a good-time man, but God showed me the error of my ways late one night" or "My mama was a real religious woman and I just couldn't wait to get out from under her roof and off to Nashville.
The book was, as always, very readable, and the fact that I wanted more about each character should tell you something about characterization. This is definitely one of those novels where the family tree on the inside cover is a must.
Each one has something to contribute to the It all starts when Moses Bailey marries young, beautiful Kate Malone. From that union comes Zeke Bailey, a generous-hearted simpleton, lover of hard work, church meeting, and fiddle-music, who inherits the land on which the Grassy Branch, a twisty little creek, flows.
It's not so widespread, but it's still definitely around. And in so doing she traces the roots and variations of country music, from primitive Baptist hymns and fiddle-playing, to gospel, rockabilly, and contemporary country western. Now she's serving time for his murder.
Each main character's story ended before I really felt ready for it to end, so I was always left wanting more.
In letting each of her characters tell his story in his own voice, Smith creates a vividly labyrinthine world of family ties in which music is always a part. I'm sad to have to let these characters go.
The book mainly follows the lives of five different family members.