Wednesday, October 31, 2012

In Winter We'll Drink Summer Wine (Book Review: Blackberry Winter, Sarah Jio)

I have always loved Alec Wilder's song "Blackberry Winter," and though I know most people associate it with Frank Sinatra, my favorite version of it is Teddi King's. Nowadays, though, I bet a lot of people will know the song through Hillary Kole's version. Author Sarah Jio chanced upon her version and it became the inspiration for her novel. The novel tells of two stories, one from 1933, and the other from 2010. The "yesterday" storyline is of a woman during the  Depression whose son disappears, while the "today" part is of a woman caught in a rut. Initially, the thread that connects the two stories together is a "blackberry winter" storm - a late season one- almost eighty years apart. But as the stories progress, you realize there is more that ties the characters - ten and now - together. This book is a page-turner. I started reading it and literally couldn't put it down. While sure, there may be a lot of coincidences and things are tied up too neatly, it gets there interestingly. Even though you kind of have an idea where it is going, the journey was still engrossing, and there were enough twists and turns that kept me interested. Jio has a flair for writing believable and relateable characters that are fully realized and three-dimensional. Some of the characters around them can be cardboard-like, but they propel the story forward so I have no complaints. It was interesting that I read this book while Hurricane Sandy was hitting the East Coast, and I couldn't help but sense a connection, as Sandy is also a late season storm. This is the  first book from Ms. Jio, though I have another one on my to-be-read pile. (It makes me want to read that one soon)

I couldn't find Teddi King's version YouTube, but they have a wonderful version from another favorite  of mine, Marlene Ver Planck:

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