Reviews for “Falling Leaves and Mountain Ashes”
Published by Sherando Sun Publications

ISBN 978-0-620-38628-9



Brenda George weaves an elaborate tapestry of rich, compelling characters, and a passionate story of love, courage, violence, heartache and humor. Her writing is lyrical and visual – a movie in the making! Don’t miss this compelling, page-turning read!
Annette Handley-Chandler – ex-literary agent, Hollywood screenplay agent, Emmy Award winning producer, writer, USA.

‘ Any and all readers will enjoy this manuscript. The title is catchy and the words are powerful. They place the reader in another era. The reader can visualize the setting. I am impressed with the amount of work that was put into this manuscript. I loved this story and cannot wait to read the next installment. The author has an excellent way with words. It is so nice to read a manuscript where so much thought, time, and work were put into the material.’
Cynthia Sherman – Writers’ Literary, USA

‘Highly detailed description promotes accessible imagery for the reader, and the inclusion of emotive historical facts sets the scene for a story told in a wild but picturesque landscape. A simple and rustic way of life is slowly revealed to the reader, reinforced by accented speech and a meticulously described lifestyle. The encounter at the store is artfully written, and assists in building empathy with the characters, whose natures and motivations are both shown and implied through nuance and narration … This story is told in a highly convincing manner, and the relationships between characters are starkly and realistically portrayed. This engagement with the story made it compelling reading, and aroused curiosity as to how the plot would unfold. Excellent writing.’
Editorial Committee – South Africa

In my younger years, when I got hold of a novel that interested me, I would read it non- stop until I had finished it. This hasn’t happened for me for many, many years – until I started to read Brenda George’s “Falling Leaves and Mountain Ashes.” I was fascinated, intrigued, from the very start of the book. I read it all day, sitting outside in a comfortable chair beneath a canopy of trees. The light was good, the read was excellent. I stopped very occasionally for a cup of tea, a light lunch, a bite of supper. I continued sitting outside, reading, even as the light faded and the words were barely visible. I just had to know what happened.
The characters are indelible - so alive, so real, her background so precisely drawn that I was there, with them, where it was all happening, transported to a place and an era that was new to me, yet as vivid as if I had been living in the early 1900’s in the Blue Ridge mountains. The setting is there, stark, easy to visualize, the rugged mountains, the isolation, the strength of character that develops as companions to these elements. These such believable characters nevertheless hide secrets until it was time to let them out.
Brenda, an incredible writer and a great story teller, has woven a novel in which the goodness of the main woman character brings a positive change to the lives of the primitive and violent mountain people she found on the wild and lonely Claw Mountain. I had a tremendous feeling for the book that drew me along irresistibly. Although a story of violence and cruelty, it was so positive and gripping that I simply could not put it down. What a great movie this book will make!

Felicity Keats
Publisher, right-brain expert, writer.

Put your hand in the hand of this truly gifted storyteller; follow her along a poetry-paved path into the beautiful environment and dilapidated homesteads of an extraordinary lost culture that will never again be seen in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

As two neighbouring clans engage in a vicious feud and the mountain people ward off Nature’s elements simply to survive, accompany the gentle Mary Harley on her brave quest to spread love and light into the terrifying ranks of the lawless Buckos – a tragically flawed, fractured clan. Watch helplessly as uncaring bureaucracy threatens their mountain existence. Weep with them as heroic hope is shattered by heartbreak.

This novel, charged with love over the seven long years of its writing, is based upon facts scrupulously researched over many more years. Brenda George is an immensely talented writer whose haunting work begs to be read. No one should deny themselves the experience of “FALLING LEAVES AND MOUNTAIN ASHES”. All who read it will be sorry to leave its enthralling world …
Glory Keverne, international bestselling author of “A MAN CANNOT CRY” and “THE DIVINE DAWNING”.

Beautifully constructed, this book tells the tale of the formation of the Shenandoah National Park, the ‘Mountain Folk' that lived there, the inter-clan fighting, the fierce family loyalties, and the gradual exposure to a more sophisticated life off the mountains. There is an inspirational message in the story of how a young girl goes to live amongst these people, and spends her life trying to better their world - to finally one day they are forced to leave their beloved home …Well researched, thus historically correct, this is the first of a 5 part saga. The descriptions of the forests take the reader out of this world and into theirs where eagles soar and leaves changed colour with the seasons.
Lesley Thomson – The Lazy Lizard Book Traders

. . . Brenda George brings us a riveting tale of the hardships with which the mountain folk of Virginia have to contend with intermingled with the breathtaking beauty of the area…. “Falling leaves and Mountain Ashes”, the first in a series of five books, holds the reader enrapt while stimulating the imagination as to the conditions with which the main character contends – whether it be the soaring and protectiveness of the eagles which hide her mountain enclave or the dirt and squalor within which the Buckos reside.. . . Feuds, lawlessness, illegal trade of moonshine and more. . .I guarantee that once you begin reading you will not want to put it down.
The Zululand Observer

...the book is beautifully written and a compelling read. The reader is transported into the forests and shares the magnificent views from the mountain. It is a love story, an adventure, includes the history of the setting up the now famous Shenandoah National Park, the Senedo Indians and a fascinating portrayal of interesting characters. It is also an inspirational book with an underlying theme of mysticism.
The Meander Chronicle.

The first thing that drew me to Brenda George’s epic novel “Falling Leaves and Mountain Ashes” was the stunning cover. The beautiful scene in rich autumn colours drew me inside the pages like the music of the Pied Piper, and I have to say the story is equally as mesmerizing. Starting in 1899, this gripping tale records over four decades in the lives of the mountain people of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, focusing on the dysfunctional Buchanan clan, whose male members are known as the “Buckos”. They are a wild, murderous, uncouth, and much-feared bunch, who live under the brutal domination of their patriarch, Obediah, until the eldest, Zachary Thomas, brings home a brave young mountain woman, Mary Harley, as a wife. One of the younger Bucko brothers is the chilling, handsome Eli, whose talents lie with the bullwhip and the knife. He bitterly resents the changes Mary brings to the mountain, and ultimately exacts ruthless revenge upon her. But Eli’s destiny lies in Washington DC. On a trip to the famous summer mountain resort, Skyland, playground to the rich and famous, to sell moonshine, he meets Annabel Cotterell, the beautiful daughter of a reverend, with whom he falls madly in love. He later moves to the capital where she lives to try to convince her to become his wife. A gifted pretender, he becomes rich and successful, especially when he engages in bootlegging during Prohibition. But the mountain people are not so lucky. The formation of the Shenandoah National Park brings about the heartbreaking demise of their beloved mountain lifestyle. The story comes to a compelling climax when long-held and devastating secrets are revealed. Exceptionally well-researched over a period of many years, and seven years in the writing, “Falling Leaves and Mountain Ashes” is such a remarkable story that it is impossible to put down. Peopled with strong, vivid, unforgettable characters, the story is poignant, beautiful and haunting, lingering on long in the mind and the heart, after one reluctantly closes the last page. It is difficult to believe that such a gifted storyteller and powerful descriptive writer, is a local lady, who lives in the Natal Midlands, shattering the myth that South Africans should only write about their own country.
Melanie du Plessis, freelance journalist.