Publication Date: December 10, 2015
In 1944, the residents of a northern Alabama town are tested in a way they’ve never been before. Where some of the challenges and secrets are what men are made of, others embody a destruction that will mark the souls of the townsfolk.
The author, Phillip C Elrod, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
Secrets of Sand Mountain takes place in the final months of WWII and the few years that follow. There are rationing and a small town outlook at a growing world indicative of the era. It is a coming-of-age novel told in three-part perspective; Secrets of Sand Mountain is a sympathetic look at concepts mostly generalized. In the rear-view mirror, we understand the danger of depression and that people are sometimes forced to do things against their conscience and common values.
Aunt Vi’s character is a staple of Southern folk fiction. She’s wholly inappropriate in her conversation with her young nephew and is considered eccentric. She’s actually suffering from depression. Vi is the butterfly of Secrets of Sand Mountain. Vi is an exquisitely drawn, relatable Southern woman for whom readers will cheer.
Where Vi is the butterfly, Phillip strives to be the hero. He really launches the action while earning a set of pearls abandoned at a gas station by a couple headed to California for his Aunt Vi. He wants to save Vi from herself and from her depression, which he recognizes but doesn’t understand. Depression was a malady that women of the time found shameful. When escaped prisoner-of-war, Karl, enters the picture, the way the stories intertwine shows an author with great promise. The premise ofSecrets of Sand Mountain was a good one that was well thought out and well composed.
The characters in general read like people the author knew. They are vivid and fully realized. I can easily picture the small town in which the story takes place and not just because it sits not far from where my parents live in the mountains. The setting is painted with love and reverence but without blinders.
Secrets of Sand Mountain is a prime example of what good professional editing will yield. There are no technical errors and while it takes Elrod time to get to know his characters (the dialogue in the first part of the novel is pretty stiff and tends to the pedantic at times in order to frame the story), the flow and experience are a professional work done right. The story proceeds at a pace to savor. What remains to readers is a book that everyone should experience as a snapshot of a bygone age.
If you like historical fiction, Secrets of Sand Mountain is a story that should not be missed. Pick it up today.
Read an excerpt and buy Secrets of Sand Mountain by Philip Elrod on