book cover of When the Jessamine Grows
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When the Jessamine Grows

(2024)
A novel by

 
 
From the author of The Saints of Swallow Hill, an evocative, morally complex novel set in rural 19th century North Carolina, as one woman fights to keep her family united, her farm running, and her convictions whole during the most devastating and divisive period in American history, perfect for readers of Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier and Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles.

Talk of impending war is a steady drumbeat throughout North Carolina, though Joetta McBride pays it little heed. She and her husband, Ennis, have built a modest but happy life for themselves, raising two sons, fifteen-year-old Henry, and eleven-year-old Robert, on their small subsistence farm. They do not support the Confederacy’s position on slavery, but Joetta considers her family to be neutral, believing this is simply not their fight. 

Her opinion is not favored by many in their community, including Joetta’s own father-in-law, Rudean. A staunch Confederate supporter, he fills his grandsons’ heads with stories about the glory of battle and the Southern cause until one night Henry runs off to join the war. At Joetta’s frantic insistence, Ennis leaves to find their son and bring him home.

But soon weeks pass with no word from father or son and Joetta is battered by the strain of running a farm with so little help. As the country becomes further entangled in the ramifications of war, Joetta finds herself increasingly at odds with those around her – until one act of kindness brings her family to the edge of even greater disaster.

Though shunned and struggling to survive, Joetta remains committed to her principles, and to her belief that her family will survive. But the greatest tests are still to come – for a fractured nation, for Joetta, and for those she loves . . .

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"In a powerful coming-of-age story that pitches southern charm against dark family secrets, the voice of 11-year-old Dixie Dupree captivates from the first page to the last." - Barbara Claypole White


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