Saturday, August 31, 2019

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

First Sentence:  Marsh is not swamp.

Kya Clark, aka Marsh Girl, virtually raised herself.  Her ability to watch and learn, and to depend on her North Carolina marsh allowed her to survive. When the handsome son of a prominent family is found dead, Kya is accused of his murder.  But was it an accident? Did she kill him?  Only with the help of others might Kya survive this, too.
      
An author who paints pictures with words is one to be savored.  Owens does just that and does it beautifully.  There is a strong, lyrical quality to the writing—"Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother."
      
The author does employ devices one may find annoying: multiple POVs and time fluctuations. Give it a chance, however. Before long, one may find oneself thoroughly captivated and willing to overlook those things.  Instead, one becomes immersed in a wonderful story filled with interesting characters, a setting which engages all the senses and emotions, and a desire for some real Southern cooking—"The aroma of sausage and biscuits, boiled turnip greens, and fried chicken thankfully overtook the high smell of fish barrels lining the dock. … Behind the counter, owner-cook Jim Bo Sweeny darted from flipping crab cakes on the griddle to stirring a pot of creamed corn on the burner to poking chicken thighs in the deep fryer…"
      
Owens' descriptions are magnetic. She knows how to engage the reader—"There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot."  It is not all description.  The author creates interesting, strong secondary characters, including Jumpin', his wife Mabel, and particularly Tate—"His dad had told him many times that the definition of a real man is one who cries without shame, reads poetry with his heart, feels opera in his soul, and does what's necessary to defend a woman." One also learns the meaning of the title, and celebrate Kya's successes—"I wadn't aware that words could hold so much.  I didn't know a sentence could be so full."  Wouldn't one love to remember when one had made that discovery?
      
Although there is a slight sense of fantasy about the plot, one can't help but be entranced by Kya's strength, courage, and perseverance—"I have to do life alone.  But I knew this."  But it's not all misty light.  Owen's takes us into Kya's feelings of being confined and through the trial, which was well done. 
      
The book isn't perfect.  The actions of one character don't always ring true and one may start to feel a bit manipulated. However, there is no question but that one's emotions become completely engaged to the point of possibly shedding tears at the finale; not a sad cry, but a lovely-ending cry.
      
"Where the Crawdads Sing" is a very good book.  It may not be the best book ever written or that one has ever read, but it is one of those rare books which will stay with one a long time. It will be interesting to see what Owen's writes next.

WHERE THE CRAWDAD SINGS (Myst/Novel-Kya-North Carolina-Contemp) – VG
      Owens, Delia – 1st book
      G.P. Putnam's Sons – Aug 2018

3 comments:

  1. I've been hearing about this one, and you're not the first to recommend it. It certainly sounds like a novel that focuses on place and atmosphere as much as the mystery surrounding the death, and that can be engaging. Sounds like a lovely physical setting, too.

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  2. I just started the book yesterday, and I've fallen in love with Owens' prose.

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