Leaves and Mountain Ashes”
2006 USA HIDDEN RIVER ARTS AWARDS ANNUAL COMPETITION
THERE WERE OVER 20,000 ENTRANTS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD (IT TOOK NEARLY A YEAR TO ANNOUNCE THE RESULTS) AND BRENDA GEORGE, AUTHOR OF “FALLING LEAVES AND MOUNTAIN ASHES” WAS A SEMI-FINALIST. SHE WAS THE ONLY NON-AMERICAN AMONGST THE WINNERS!
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!
‘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.’
In my younger years, when
I got hold of a novel that interested me, I would read it non- stop
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.
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 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
leaves changed colour with the seasons.
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.