18 Nov 2011

HOLLY.

HOLLY by ALBERT FRENCH.

Holly is the story of a poor, white girl in 1944 North Carolina, whose lonely world is transformed by a handsome, educated black soldier from the war - and of the town's savage response to their romance.
- Outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): There was a sign out on the blacktop highway that said WELCOME TO SUPPLY.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 309): I lost more than just my arm over there. I lost what I was and wanted to be.

My first thought? How was I going to read this given that most of the novel was written with vernacular spellings that did not include the letter g on the ends of words? - With the use of Um instead of I'm, Ya instead of You, Ta instead of To etc, I confess that I found Holly hard reading at first but then my mind compensated and, to be honest, I read the rest of the book without really taking too much notice of this.

My second thought? Was it really necessary to use the 'n' word to describe a black person quite as often? OK so it was realistically used and I suppose to use any other word might not have been as true to the characters and the period in which the book was set (the 1934s)but, as always, my twenty-first century self winced at its use.

These aside I really, really enjoyed this book. A wonderfully observed novel of family, friendship, love, loyalty and grief, I found myself totally engrossed in Holly's world - a world, though set in North Carolina, USA, in the 1940's, that could have been set in much more modern times.

Many stranded, one of the story lines looked at Holly's elder brother, Bobby, who has recently returned from war badly injured(he was shot in the head) and having flashbacks which I thought was wonderfully written and quite timeless in that how many other young men have returned from more recent wars suffering in such a way? And on a lighter note - I loved the fact that Holly (19) and her friend, Elsie, seemed to be typical teenagers, wanting to party of an evening, lying in bed until mid-afternoon, worrying over their image and, of course, boys, - as I say quite timeless.

The one other thing that I didn't like, no, it's not that I didn't like it, the one thing I didn't particularly understand was how little time was devoted to Holly and the 'handsome, educated black soldier', Elias. Introduced well over half way through the book I felt a bit more time could have been given to their budding romance and subsequent events.

A Book Exchange read, the 92nd read in my 100+ Reading Challenge. Highly recommended, I don't want to give too much away except to say you may want to have a tissue or two ready.

10 comments:

Arti said...

Looks like a gripping read. The storyline seems quite touching and real...
Have a lovely weekend Tracy:)

anilkurup said...

Some books since you gave a good for a review. By the way , you have not said how you devour books at this pace.

The Americanised pronunciation- the spoken English of Uncle Sam was once chronicled regularly in the "Punch" magazine. A tough but funny read that was.

The black man falling in love with the fair skinned has also been subtly taken up in some films too.

....Petty Witter said...

To answer your question Anilkurup, being unable to work because of my health problems I'm able to dedicate a lot of time to reading which is of mixed blessings as part of me would love to be able to say that I haven't got time to read. Combine that with the fact that I don't sleep very well, I read a lot during the night hours. Also I do read a fair few children's/young adult's books which take no time at all to read.

Kelly said...

A tale that transcends time, I'm sure, but as you said...it's so hard to get beyond "vernacular" when books are written that way. One of the reasons I'm a slow reader is because I have trouble skimming and this adds to the problem!

Jenners said...

It does seem odd that the romance at the center of the book wasn't given more time. And I've been amazed at books that started out difficult to read due to the dialect or something get easier as you get used to it.

You're almost to 100 books!!

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

looks like an interesting and touching read.
i'm definitely going to be checking this out.

brilliant review as usual!

big hugs
xx

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

This sounds like a read I will love or hate due to the tissues. ;) Sometimes I love that I hate it. LOL I hate to cry. I also would be curious about Holly and Elias. Sounds like they would have an interesting relationship.

StarTraci said...

I find it very hard to read books written in dialect. I get the idea but I find it so distracting, sometimes enough to really detract from the story. I;m glad you ended up enjoying it anyways.

:-)
Traci

joan said...

hi thanks for hopping by to say hello. i am sorely tempted to join the Christmas spirit readin challenge but know i wont be able to devote enough time,,then i spotted the World book day for next year,, i dont know what it involves but i would love to sign up for that

naida said...

The premise sounds like a good one. It does seem like the author could have given the romance more time. The use of the 'n' word would probably have me cringing as well.