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Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
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Cold Sassy Tree (edition 2007)

by Olive Ann Burns

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2,833462,055 (3.94)78
Member:stephmo
Title:Cold Sassy Tree
Authors:Olive Ann Burns
Info:Mariner Books (2007), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:listsofbests to get
Rating:
Tags:unowned, listsofbests, teenreads.com ultimate reading list

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Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

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2 stars
Do you enjoy a sweet story? Are you a religious person with deep faith? Do you enjoy books set in the South at the turn of the century? Then this book is probably a good choice for you.

My own response to the two first questions is not affirmative, and that is why I cannot give it more than two stars. No, it is not a bad book. It is fine, it’s OK………if a bit boring. Although it gives a pretty good depiction of small town life in Georgia, it says nothing about racial inequities which of course still remained after the Civil War. The whites certainly don’t see their black servants as their equals but they are not cruel. White Trash on the other hand are looked down upon, and many of the new inventions of that era are interwoven into the plot – cars, telephones, house plumbing and electricity. But it is all so cute.

This is not only a coming-of-age story, but also a story of how it is to grow old. How do you deal with that? Will is the central character. He tells the story about is grandfather and what he did when his grandmother died. Yup, he got married again, three weeks after her death! Now this is darn-right scandalous! What will people think?! But the question is why, and you learn the real answer to that throughout the rest of the book. Is Will the main character? Or is it his grandfather?Are the grandfather’s actions and the way he chose to live his life and his behavior towards all those around him that is the central focus of this book? I know what I think. I also know that it drove me crazy that everyone was most concerned with what other folks would say.

But you know what is right and what is wrong, and we all do when it comes down to the basics, so the book’s message is rather simple. Maybe you like uncomplicated feel-good stories. There are hypocrites galore in this book. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, but I will add that there is at least one that isn’t a hypocrite.

There must be some suspense in a book, right? Well, a few bombs are thrown in, but are they adequately explored? Or are they just thrown in for the effect? Miss Love’s rape and Uncle Campbell’s suicide.

OK, I have something really good to say about the book….. Well, at least the audiobook narrated by Tom Parker. The narration is excellent. You know immediately who is talking simply by the tone. Will never sounds like his grandfather. The women are prefect too. And Loomis, the black servant, he speaks just as he should. It is not hard at all to understand the Southern dialect.

Just one more thing…. I have read reviews that compare this book to Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”. One should never compare one book to another. No two books are ever the same in content or how they are written. Stupid me; I was thinking perhaps I would get another of Lee’s, and that hope made me so mad when it wasn’t fulfilled. I should have known better.

Completed July 13, 2013 ( )
2 vote chrissie3 | Jul 13, 2013 |
Listened to from March 01 to 13, 2012

I love this book. I love Love Simpson & I absolutely adore E. Rucker Blakeslee. I've read it twice & now listened to it. It just doesn't get old.

One thing I've learned: I block out the sad endings of books I like. This was first noticed when I reread The Great Gatsby...and now with Cold Sassy Tree it's happened again.

As I was listening to the last half hour, I was driving with tears streaming down my face. ( )
  melissarochelle | Apr 3, 2013 |
3.5 stars. I really liked this book, but I found it much easier to listen to this book than to read it. I grew up in the south, but I still had a hard time with the vernacular as it was written in this book. The 'should/would/could of' ones got me the most, more than 'terreckly' in place of 'directly', 'cain't' in place of 'can't' etc, because I kept thinking it sounds exactly the same if you write 'could've', etc, so why purposefully write it wrong? Listening to it was much less distracting.

I really loved the characters in this story, which is a good thing, because this is such a character driven story that lacking amazing characters, there would be no story to tell. The story is these characters' lives; their faith and their deaths and their scandals and their everyday.

My favorite character was Grandpa Blakeslee. I loved his take on life. I loved his take on faith and loyalty and life in general. He was just such a refreshing character to meet, one who had such a realistic and "homegrown" faith and relationship with his God. I loved his take on faith, that it is not a guarantee or reward, but rather a way of life.

I really liked Will Tweedy as a narrator. I liked that he was young and in the thick of things because he was at that middling age where one is almost adult but still considered a child when it comes to adult issues, so he was privy to a lot of things that he maybe shouldn't have been, but his interpretation of those things was nothing if not interesting. The foreshadowing was a little heavy handed, but it served its purpose, and in a novel as gossipy as this one, it worked pretty well.

I would have liked for a few of the social issues, like prejudice and racial segregation and women's rights to be addressed more fully... all were touched upon, but none really explored at all.

Overall, I really liked the book. I think that Grandpa Blakeslee will stick with me for a while after reading this one. He's just one of those characters that imprint a part of themselves on everyone who meets them. ( )
  TheBecks | Apr 1, 2013 |
I originally picked this book up because my eye was drawn to the cover. The reviews were very good, so our book club made it one of our selections. I have to be honest and say if it had not been a book club read, I probably would have set it aside after about 50 pages. It was very slow paced, and the southern dialect was difficult to read at first. But because it was a book club discussion, I kept at it, and after a few more chapters, the dialect was not only no longer an obstacle, but I began to ‘think’ in dialect. It took a few more chapters before I really got interested in the story. I did finish, and I’m glad I did, but it is not a book I would normally stick with.

This is not exactly historical fiction; there are no ‘historical’ characters interacting in the book. But it does give you a look into what life was like in the the small town south in the early 1900s. The story is told by Will Tweedy, a fourteen year old from the ‘right side of the tracks’ in Cold Sassy. He is the grandson of Grandpa Blakeslee, and as the story opens, Grandma Blakeslee has been dead for three weeks. Grandpa shocks his grown daughters, and the town, by running off to marry his young, attractive milliner, Miss Love. As he explains to his daughters, it is ‘cheaper to have a wife than a housekeeper’ and grandma ‘isn’t getting any deader’ if he waits longer to remarry. Hopefully you can tell from this that Grandpa is quite a character, and is used to getting his way. The daughters are polite, but cool towards their ‘step-mother’, but young Will is entranced. The rest of the book tells Will’s experiences during the next year, and his perception of what is happening in relation to Miss Love and the family.

If you have time for a relaxing, slow-paced read without a lot of complicated plot twists, this is a good book to try. Just don’t expect a lot of action.
( )
  Time2Read2 | Mar 31, 2013 |
When I don't have a strong reaction to a book, I have little to say about it. And [b:Cold Sassy Tree|306654|Cold Sassy Tree|Olive Ann Burns|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1223675895s/306654.jpg|1187268] is one of those books.

Now, the setting was well-drawn: Burns seemed to capture the time and culture, or at least convinced me, so uneducated on the era, that she did. Will Tweedy read as a reasonable facsimile of a teenage boy, though never having been one myself, I'll never be able to tell for sure. I found the various depictions of various griefs genuine and moving and insightful.

However, while most characters had at least one sympathetic moment and were for the most part rounded, I didn't particularly *like* them, though I'll be the first to admit that's hardly necessary. I just got tired of it. There were a few too many moments of melodrama for the sake of it and author tract-ing for my tastes. Sometimes I just skimmed.

At any rate, it's off my list, and I don't regret having read it.I just don't know that I'll think about it all that often. ( )
  MarieAlt | Mar 31, 2013 |
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To Andy my beloved
To Becky and John our grown children
And to my father who was fourteen in 1906
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Three weeks after Granny Blakeslee died, Grandpa came to our house for his early morning snort of whiskey, as usual, and said to me, "Will Tweedy? Go find your mama, then run up to yore Aunt Loma's and tell her I said git on down here. I got something to say. And I ain't a -go'n say it but once't."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 038531258X, Paperback)

If the preacher's wife's petticoat showed, the ladies would make the talk last a week. But on July 5, 1906, things took a scandalous turn. That was the day E. Rucker Blakeslee, proprietor of the general store and barely three weeks a widower, eloped with Miss Love Simpson—a woman half his age and, worse yet, a Yankee! On that day, fourteen-year-old Will Tweedy's adventures began and an unimpeachably pious, deliciously irreverent town came to life. Not since To Kill A Mockingbird has a novel so deftly captured the subtle crosscurrents of small-town Southern life. Olive Ann Burns classic bestseller brings to vivid life an era that will never exist again, exploring timeless issues of love, death, coming of age, and the ties that bind families and generations.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:45 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Modern times come to a conservative Southern town in 1906 when the proprietor of the general store elopes with a woman half his age, and worse yet, a Yankee. The one thing you can depend on in Cold Sassy, Georgia, is that word gets around - fast. When Grandpa E. Rucker Blakeslee announces one July morning in 1906 that he's aiming to marry the young and freckledy milliner, Miss Love Simpson - a bare three weeks after Granny Blakeslee has gone to her reward - the news is served up all over town with that afternoon's dinner. And young Will Tweedy suddenly finds himself eyewitness to a major scandal. Boggled by the sheer audacity of it all, and not a little jealous of his grandpa's new wife, Will nevertheless approves of this May-December match and follows its progress with just a smidgen of youthful prurience. As the newlyweds' chaperone, conspirator, and confidant, Will is privy to his one-armed, renegade grandfather's second adolescence; meanwhile, he does some growing up of his own. He gets run over by a train and lives to tell about it; he kisses his first girl, and survives that too. Olive Ann Burns has given us a timeless, funny, resplendent novel - about a romance that rocks an entire town, about a boy's passage through the momentous but elusive year when childhood melts into adolescence, and about just how people lived and died in a small Southern town at the turn of the century. Inhabited by characters who are wise and loony, unimpeachably pious and deliciously irreverent, Cold Sassy, Georgia, is the perfect setting for the debut of a storyteller of rare brio, exuberance, and style.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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