The Prudent Mariner by Leslie Walker Williams
Publisher: University of Tennessee Press
Pub. Date: October 2008
Prizes: The Peter Taylor Prize & The Hackney Literary Award
Here is the blurb from B&N:
“In 1913, a young white girl in coastal Georgia fabricates a romance between her elder sister and an African American laborer, inadvertently leading to the man’s lynching. A crowd gathers and a photographer records the event on picture postcards. In one of these, the young girl stands smiling beside the hanged man.
More than fifty years later, nine-year-old Riddley Cross discovers these postcards amid her late grandfather’s belongings. As she tries to make sense of why the postcards are in her family’s possession, and why the photographed girl seems so familiar, Riddley becomes haunted by apparitions and dreams of lynchings. The postcards force her to question what she has been taught about the world, the South, and her family – and what she has not. The mysteries of the lynching postcards start to unravel after her widowed grandmother, Adele, moves in with the family.”
I love this book! Ms. William’s writing is clear and concise. The story is simple, but well told and very easy to follow. The pacing of the novel is perfect as well. I didn’t notice any slow spots and I am surprised at how quickly the main plot points were presented. I love to pick up a book and know within the first 10 pages if it is something I am going to like and that is how it was with this book.
The main character, Riddley, reminded me very much of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird which has always been one of my favorite novels. At 9-years of age, Riddley has the innocence of a child yet is an old soul at heart. She “gets” things and how the world works. She’s smart and inquisitive but knows what to share and when. Not something your average 9-year-old can do. Then there’s Carver, her grown-up friend who is quirky and odd to everyone around her, but only until you get to know her. Riddley’s grandmother, Adele, is losing her battle with Alzheimer’s disease but is still able to maintain a bond with her grand-daughter through their time spent together. The relationships are strongly written and will touch the heart.
I often ask myself what makes a book a classic and I would have to say it’s a mix of strong characters, a well-told story and one that can survive the trends. To me, this book falls into this category and it’s her first novel which is amazing to me! I would love to share the copy I have with all of you but it’s staying on my shelf.
Leslie Walker Williams was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her short stories have appeared in numerous publications, including The Iowa Review, The Madison Review, Harvard Review, and American Fiction. Her collection, Taxidermy, was a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award. The Prudent Mariner, her first novel, was awarded the Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel, and the Morris Hackney Literary Award for the Novel.
For more information on Leslie Walker Williams, click here to visit her website.
13 thoughts on “Review: The Prudent Mariner”
I really want to read this since the main character reminds you of Scout!
Just from the description of this book I love it. 🙂 It does sound like a good one and I am glad you enjoyed it so much, Ti. That is such an interesting time period and it sounds like a tragic story that I shouldn’t miss. Thanks for the great review.
This sounds like a fascinating book. I’m going to put it on my list of books to check out.
This sounds so good! Part of the description reminded me of Atonement.
Oh, I HAVE to read this book! I loved your review and your keen observations on considering it an instant ‘classic’. I’m so happy you liked it so much. Thanks for the review!
Great Review! Thank you… I am sold! 🙂 Nice Job! Hey.. don’t be stingy with your book now!! Just kidding.
Anything that would remind me of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird wold be something I’d want to read. REally great review Ti and that cover is just gorgeous!
I’ve added this to my library book list. I love checking out university press books. 🙂
Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. Sounds like a good one.
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