Below is a review I did for Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. Under the Bayou Moon by Valerie Fraser Luesse is a gorgeously written book, and as I say below, I felt like I was somehow reading a musical composition. This was an Editor’s Choice for the August edition of Historical Novels Review.
After leaving her home in Alabama, Ellie Fields arrives in Bernadette, Louisiana, in 1949 for her new teaching job. The people of this town do not trust outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their culture. But as Ellie settles into her job, she is accepted by almost everyone, except for the school board and a greedy politician. When Ellie meets Raphe, he introduces her to the legendary white alligator who inhabits the waters, and he and Ellie soon begin a relationship. When a huge bounty is offered for the gator and an evil man tries to destroy the town, Raphe and Ellie will find their courage tested.
This is a gorgeous tale that draws the reader in with almost musical writing. The lonely character of Raphe, the loyal and determined Ellie, and the beautiful town with its rich history are all so well described. The threat to the white alligator, “L’Esprit Blanc,” mirrors the threat to the entire town and its culture from outsiders only interested in conformity and money. The characters, whether endearing, challenging, or infuriating, are beautifully composed. Through the weaving together of violin music, tall tales, chirping crickets, and the beauty and culture of the Bayou, Valerie Fraser Luesse has created a lyrical and masterful literary composition that you won’t want to put down.
I received a free copy of this book from Revell Books via the Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Valerie Fraser Luesse is the author of four novels set in the South: Christy Award winner Missing Isaac (2018), Almost Home (2019), The Key to Everything (2020), and the upcoming Under the Bayou Moon (August 2021), all published by Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. An award-winning magazine writer, Luesse is perhaps best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she wrote major pieces on the Mississippi Delta, Acadian Louisiana, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Her editorial section on the recovering Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, photographed by Mark Sandlin, won the 2009 Travel Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society. Luesse earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Auburn University and Baylor University, respectively. She is a native of Harpersville, Alabama, and lives in Birmingham, where she is the senior travel editor for Southern Living. Find her online at valeriefraserluesse.com; facebook.com/valeriefraserluessebooks; bakerpublishinggroup.com; bookbub.com/authors/valerie-fraser-luesse; and goodreads.com.
BUY UNDER THE BAYOU MOON
Under The Bayou Moon will be released August 3, 2021.