Sunday, October 10, 2010
Still House Pond by Jan Watson
I am often guilty of judging books by their covers, but an appealing cover design is one of the elements that draws me to a book (in addition to the plot and the author of course!). My first impression of Still House Pond was based on two elements: the author, Jan Watson, first and the cover second. Based on the cover design, I made the assumption that Lilly Gray Corbett was around 16 years old; so I was a bit surprised when I discovered that she was only 12. The synopsis on the back cover of the book does allude to Lilly Gray being a child, however. Nonetheless, I adore the cover, and I believe it captures the essence of both the title and the most pivotal event in the novel.
Throughout the past few years, I have read each of Jan Watson's novels, starting with her moving and charming first novel, Troublesome Creek. Watson crafts such realistic characters that, after reading her four novels, I feel as though I know and understand the folks that make up the fictious Kentucky communities. I enjoyed reading Still House Pond because the novel welcomed me into the life of Copper, the star of the first three novels, through her daughter Lilly Gray. The novel follows the life, faith, struggles, and triumphs of Copper's family and her small Kentucky hills community in 1896. The details of the day-to-day life of the main characters is charming but interspersed with enough troubles to make the plot interesting. There were only a few major events in the novel, but they lacked suspense, and the outcomes were somewhat predictable.
I enjoyed the re-introduction to Copper that this novel provided; and it was interesting to be a part of her adult life as a midwife/doctor, wife, and mother of a few children. The novel primarily focuses on Copper's family, but it also introduces Manda, Copper's hired help. Manda faces struggles of her own throughout the story, which eventually impact the life of Copper's family. Manda was an interesting character, but I did not feel like I completely knew her. I would have liked the plot to delve deeper into her character so that I could better understand her decisions.
Overall, Still House Pond is a very well-crafted and charming novel. Jan Watson's words paint vivid scenes and life-like characters. In many ways, Jan Watson's stories remind me of Catherine Marshall's famous novel, Christy.