Empty Chairs

Anne Davidson Keller

Publisher: CreateSpace Pages: 349 Price: (paperback) $12.95 ISBN: 9781542785617 Reviewed: June, 2017 Author Website: Visit »

Set during WWII in the North Carolina mountains, this novel chronicles life on the farm during trying times.

As the story opens, Joseph McDowell steals a coin from his mother’s purse, a guilty habit he’s indulged in for three years and one that gives the poor farm boy a glimpse of something more. He explains, “Coins hidden in an old sock rushed hope through my veins.” It is also his 11th birthday, but any happiness in the McDowell household is quickly shadowed by a letter from the Army drafting his oldest brother Ted. With Ted gone, there will be more work around the farm for Joe and his older sisters, Katie and Ruthie, and Joe worries that they will be unable to keep up.

But the troubles have just begun. Katie,16 and fed up with life on the farm, rebels and the McDowell’s receive an ominous letter from the bank. Then, if the family weren’t troubled enough, a farming accident changes life dramatically.

This well-crafted story takes off from page one and moves steadily to the end, posing challenges to the family at seemingly every turn, but never becoming overdramatic or sappy. It delivers genuine characters, such as Joe’s mother Martha, stoic and strong, but with her own hopes and disappointments and a past she must ultimately confront. Likewise, the description is vivid; the scenes authentic. When the farm accident occurs, Joe is on the scene and reports, “Something smacked my face … Blood spurted … I vomited, gum and all, and thought I was glad I had my old boots on even though they pinched.”

Despite the family’s hard-scrabble existence, the depiction of honest and simple lives of a different era lend it a certain homespun charm. The author delivers a story sure to be enjoyed by a wide range of readers.

Also available as an ebook.

Author's Current Residence
Madison, Wisconsin
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