Few books I have read have been as touching and beautifully true to life as The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton. On its surface, it seems like a sweetly innocent story, reminiscent of a time-before-my-time that I still somehow feel nostalgically connected to, without any real reason or explanation. But as the story unfolds, the characters reveal themselves to be more tangible and not-quite-perfect and human than would perhaps first meet the eye. And I am so glad that this is the case.
Not to oversimplify, it is a story of sisterhood and family and ambitions and dreams. Human nature. Unfulfilled desires. Sacrifice. And the various meanings of love.
The story is not told from just one perspective or in straight chronological order, and the author utilizes this technique to enchanting effect. I love few things more than everything coming together, just so, in a surprising, happy, ah-ha way, and Carleton delivers in genius fashion.
I have already included some excerpts as favorite book quotes, but the book truly does have some delightfully charming passages, so full of wisdom and human truth:
No one can tell anyone anything, not even how much you love them.
Not any of them cared much for sleeping; daylight and doing were important to them.
Her writing and voice have a cadence and timing that you do not hear anymore. The whole book is wonderfully, almost tragically nostalgic.
And she knows and loves the Midwest, which is lovely and serene in its own unique way. Some who live and love here call it “God’s country.” You can tell that Carleton certainly believes so.
I’ll warn you, there are sad moments. I almost cried at several points. But c’est la vie. If you want something truly beautiful and real, if you truly want to feel and experience something, I would definitely encourage you to consider this rediscovered classic.