This is a beautiful and heartbreaking book. Set in the Appalachians during WWI and hate towards Germans is running rampant with the help of one fervent recruiter Chauncey who is on a witch hunt for anything German. At the same time on a farm in the cove lives Laurel a young woman with a wine splotch birthmark that people in town say is a curse and call her a witch and the townspeople won’t let her go to school because she may harm their children. A superstitious lot they are, that makes for a lonely life for Laurel, she does have her brother Jack who is back from the war missing a hand but alive. When one day she hears the most beautiful flute music and sees a raggedy man a few days later she finds him covered in bee stings and brings him home. Walter recovers but seems to be a mute but that doesn’t stop sparks from flying between him and Laurel.
I cared so much about these characters that towards the end my stomach was knotted with worry and when events played out I was bawling . This book evokes the times and the place I felt like I was there. It is a love story but so much more it is about the human condition and how people can be so incredibly hurtful towards others. I loved Laurel and felt so bad for the way she was treated and even though I figured out certain things about Walter, it didn’t matter, he was one of the few people to show a kindness towards laurel and I think it was what they both needed.
As I said this novel is beautiful and heart wrenching all at the same time, this is my first book by this author and will not be my last! I think fans of southern fiction and historical fiction will like this one.
4 ½ Stars