Luce lives alone in a large old lodge in the hills of North Carolina on the other side of the river from the small town, deciding to stay on after the owners die because “why not? Who else will look after the place?” She is a reclusive woman, everything there suits her just fine until her twin niece, and nephew arrives, which really upsets the apple cart of her ordinary and independent life.
After Luce’s sister is murdered, Luce becomes guardian of her children. She is anything but thrilled about this arrangement, but tries to make the best of it because the children have nowhere else to go.
The children refuse to talk and always get into some sort of trouble, such as setting fire to things and killing chickens. Luce does her best to control them but it is very difficult, if not impossible, yet she refuses to believe they may be retarded and thinks they are very smart and just traumatized from the whole situation of their mother’s murder.
Luce walks everywhere she goes, to the small village for the few needs she has and to the neighbors, an old woman who makes potions and homemade remedies. Luce is quite a fascinating character and at times it almost seems as if she is living her life on autopilot and walking around in a daze or trance, but then the children will do something deplorable and she must act and try to talk some sense into them.
The scheming brother-in-law eventually returns thinking that Luce has the money her sister hid from him.
I loved all the description in this book and the unforgettable characters, although at times it moved so slow I thought it would be hard to read another page, but then it would take off again. Otherwise, the writing meanders all over with flowing descriptive sentences and Luce’s quirky character traits and daily rituals. When thinking about it, it does make you wonder if oddness just doesn’t run in the family genes.
Despite the slowness of this overall story, I enjoyed the descriptions very much and those put you right in the story with the characters and the beautiful scenery of the hills.
A definite dislike is no quotation marks at all. This was hard to figure out at first. I’ve never seen another book written this way. Please use quotation marks next time because it would be much easier to read. I would give it three stars for that, but the story was very interesting and memorable, so I’m giving it four.