The story begins in 1854 in the Appalachian mountains when Arty Norton is nine years old and her widowed aunt dies giving birth to a baby boy. The baby is named Larkin and Arty's family take him to raise. Arty thinks of him as her very own baby and he calls her "Amma" for "mama". Arty's brother, Hackley, and Larkin grow up together as best friends. Predictably, both Larkin and Hackley grow up to fall in love with Mary. Mary only has eyes for Hackley despite his womanizing, which continues after their marriage. As the Civil War approaches, Hackley signs on and Larkin is left to take care of the women in the family, including Mary, who he is still in love with. Hackley dies, and Larkin and Mary marry.
The story is told through Arty who is a very bright and insightful female, who spares no words or opinions. Arty continues to worry over Larkin through-out his life and sees what is going on with everyone. She tells the story of mountain living, including the hunger, hardships, struggles and love.
The funny thing is that after I finished this book, I was aware of thinking (but not actually saying out loud) in the manner of speaking that the mountain people used in the book. A sign that I really took the book in!
"When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily."
Well, that was an interesting beginning...but I never really got the point of the whole story. The whole book takes place in twenty-four hours. Helen Knightly got a call from her mother's neighbor concerned about her mother's behavior, Helen rushed over to her mother's home. Her mother, as we learn through-out the story, was a beautiful but mentally ill woman with whom Helen had never had a good relationship with. But as the only child, after Helen's father died, Helen was left with the care of her mother. Her mother lived in her own home, but Helen watched over her., and dementia had started to be taking over her mother. I guess this particular day, Helen had had enough and she killed her mother. The story does not improve after this...