Over one hundred years before COVID-19, the flu pandemic of 1918 sweeps through Georgetown, South Carolina, claiming the life of young, pregnant Alice Virginia Freeman Pow. Alice’s little girls, three-year-old Tante and five-year-old Dixie, board the train for Savannah, Georgia to live with their grandmother, Aunt Sissy, leaving their beloved father alone in Georgetown. When, after seven years, Daddy remarries, Tante and Dixie return to their father and his new wife, losing yet another mother, Aunt Sissy. Shortly after the girls’ arrival, The Great Depression engulfs the country, followed closely by Daddy’s sudden and tragic illness. Tante equates train rides with tragedy and loss, but, despite the heartache of separation and the uncertainty that awaits at the end of each journey, the young woman recalls a childhood of family who loves and nurtures her and the Real Mother who promises she’ll never leave.
This is a true story and a tribute by the author to her family. After the 1918 pandemic kills her mother, 3-year-old Tante and her sister Dixie leave South Carolina and board a train. Their father will remain behind and they are going to stay with their grandmother. Several years later, when their father remarries, they board a train and go to live with him and his new wife, leaving behind their beloved grandmother. Then the Great Depression begins, and her father falls ill. The author beautifully weaves together the story of her family, filled with love, loss, and train rides,
This is a gorgeously written novel in which trains become a symbol of heartbreak, loss, and new beginnings that aren’t exactly welcome. It is the coming-of-age story of the author’s mother, but also a history of significant events in the early 20th Century United States. The author brings her departed loved ones to life and introduces them to the reader so well that they become dear friends. The love of family and their resilience in hard times make this a hard one to put down. I must also mention the amazing cover, which immediately draws you in. Highly recommended to fans of US historical fiction.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Padgett Gerler was born on the coast of South Carolina but grew up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, in the heart of the Alleghany Highlands. (Padgett’s husband, Ed, calls it Dick and Jane Country.) She has spent most of her adult life in the Coastal and Piedmont regions of North Carolina. She graduated from North Carolina State University (in a brief 28 years) with a degree in accounting and enjoyed a career as a CPA in public and corporate accounting. In 2010, when her love of writing leapt way ahead of her love of accounting, she left her hard-earned profession to pursue a career in fiction writing. Because of her immersion in southern culture and dialect, Padgett writes of the southern experience, from the mountains to the coast. (She is a scholar of y’all, y’all’s, and all y’all’s.)
When she isn’t writing, Padgett loves reading, especially other authors’ takes on the southern experience. She also enjoys the beaches of North Carolina, travel, aqua aerobics, knitting, NC State basketball, and doing nothing.
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