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Feather Crowns by Bobbie Ann Mason

Feather Crowns (1993)

by Bobbie Ann Mason

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
I did not enjoy the majority of this book. It moved slow, which I can handle in some books, but this book never picked up the pace. I felt like the story lacked a good arc, and I finished the book feeling less than satisfied. I did appreciate the end of the story - the connections that Christie Wheeler makes with other families, but other than that, I would not recommend this book. ( )
  thea-block | Jan 25, 2016 |
Feather Crowns begins on the night in 1900 that Christie Wheeler gives birth to the first living quintuplets in North America. She and her husband, James, are relatively poor farmers in Kentucky, living on the same land as his extended family. The Wheelers are overwhelmed by trying to care for five babies and by the huge number of people who start barging into their house for the chance to see the babies. I did a little bit of research on the internet, and I couldn’t find anything to indicate that this was based on a true story, so I’ll assume that it’s completely fictional.

I loved In Country, the first novel I read by Bobbie Ann Mason, but I was really disappointed by this one. It was incredibly slow and probably should have been half as long as it was (454 pages). This was partly because the whole novel was told from Christie’s point of view, and for most of it, she was confined to bed after just having given birth, so there wasn’t much action, just her thoughts. It was so tedious to read that I rarely got through more than 20 pages a day. The last 100 pages picked up a bit, but I was just so ready to be done with this one by that time that it just didn’t matter. Mason did do a really good job developing Christie’s character and the huge weight she suddenly had to deal with (it’s obviously a huge shock to find yourself delivering five babies when you were only expecting one), but I just didn’t care about her enough to make it worth reading the whole novel. I’d highly recommend In Country, Mason’s other novel, but I can’t say the same for Feather Crowns. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
This ambitiously historical novel differs from Mason's other books. Although the geographical setting is, again, rural Kentucky, her cast of down-home folks is transposed from the K-Marts of 1988 to "the apocalyptic atmosphere of 1900" (as the book jacket puts it). So the characters of FEATHER CROWNS might be the ancestors to those of Mason's other fiction, a thought that I enjoyed recalling in the course of reading.

Those who enjoy period details and forays into social history will be in their element here: food, clothing, chores, crops, and other details of farm life are portrayed extensively. We get insider views of tent revivals, the vaudeville and medicine show circuits, as well as everyday manners and behavior. Against this backdrop, Mason unfolds the story of a farm wife who gives birth to the first recorded set of quintuplets in North American history (based in part on actual events). The young family find themselves overwhelmed by the fascination that surrounds this phenomenon. It proves impossible to care for so many young children while the popular will demands sensational display.

In spite of the intrinsic interest of these topics, I found the novel unfocused. Mason seemed determined to tell me something of great import, but aside from the typical failings of human nature and/or of the capitalist system, I remained unsure what the message should be. Many will no doubt disagree with me, but I much prefer this author's short stories and contemporary settings. ( )
  AnesaMiller | Jan 17, 2014 |
In rural Kentucky, a young farm wife unexpectedly gives birth to quintuplets. Surrounded first by friends and family and, increasingly by intrusive strangers bent on "getting a look" at the babies, the young mother struggles to cope with a world that is rapidly moving outside her experience. How she deals with this, and the tragedies that beset her throughout her life, is the unfolding story. Mason has perfectly captured the time, place and circumstance of this story. Expect the first third of the book to be taken up with an astonishingly detailed (and sometimes tedious) account of the babies' first days. ( )
  turtlesleap | Nov 19, 2009 |
A simple, but smart and contemplative woman is visited by and the victim of a one in millions event. This is about how she copes with it and tries to find its' meaning. A moving story. ( )
  gesullivan | Oct 31, 2009 |
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In memory of my father, Wilburn Arnett Mason (1916-1990)
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Christianna Wheeler, big as a washtub and confined to bed all winter with the heaviness of her unusual pregnancy, heard the midnight train whistling up from Memphis.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060925493, Paperback)

Set in the apocalyptic atmosphere of 1900--a time when many Americans were looking for signs foretelling the end of the world--Feather Crowns is the story of a young woman who unintentionally creates a national sensation. A farm wife living near the small town of Hopewell, Kentucky, Christianna Wheeler gives birth to the first recorded set of quintuplets in North America.

Christie is suddenly thrown into a swirling storm of public attention. Thousands of strangers descend on her home, all wanting too see and touch the "miracle babies." One visitor crawls right in through the window! The fate of the babies and the bizarre events that follow their births propel Christie and her husband far from home, on a journey that exposes them to the turbulent pageant of life at the beginning of the modern era.

Richly detailed and poignant, Feather Crowns focuses on one woman but opens out ultimately into the chronicle of a time and a people. Written in Bobbie Ann Mason's taut yet lyrical prose, the novel ranges from a peaceful farming community to a fire-and-brimstone revival camp, from seamy traveling shows to the hushed precincts of the nation's capital. Moving through the center of it all is Christie, a charming, headstrong, loving woman who struggles heroically to come to terms with the extraordinary events of her long life.

Feather Crowns is an American parable of profound resonance. Spellbindingly readable, it is a novel of classic stature destined to confirm Bobbie Ann Mason as one of America's most important writers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:12 -0400)

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Christianna Wheeler is a Kentucky farm wife who becomes a national sensation when she gives birth to quintuplets in 1900.

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