Finding the Grain – Wynn Malone

Finding the Grain - Wynn MaloneWhen Augusta “Blue” Riley’s parents are killed by a tornado in her last month of high school, Blue is thrown into a world where nothing is what she expected. She moves from her farm in Alabama to North Carolina to be near her aunt and attend college. Interesting classes and the love of sorority girl Grace Lancaster help Blue let go of her grief. But her world is shattered again when Grace abruptly leaves her.

Blue quits college and hits the road. For nearly twenty years she moves from town to town, job to job, woman to woman—always the first to move on—until Blue comes back to the farming life that shaped her childhood. Mississippi Delta farmer Preacher Rowe and his invalid wife Mary put Blue to work plowing the fields and helping in the house. Eventually, Preacher teaches Blue the art and craft of fine woodworking and for the first time since her parents death Blue takes control of her life.

The pull of the mountains brings Blue back to North Carolina where she opens a woodworking gallery. When her lost love walks in the door the strength and serenity Blue thought she found is put to the ultimate test.

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This is Wynn Malone’s first novel and heralds the arrival of a great new addition to the Lesbian Fiction genre.

Finding the Grain is exceptionally well written. The story flows from Ms Malone’s pen with grace and elegance. It is superbly paced, and despite covering more than 20 years, it never drags. We start off with Grace and Blue, we end with Grace and Blue, but between we spend 18 years in the wilderness of Blue’s empty life. Each of her life phases has a descriptive rhythm and a purpose – to build her into the powerful woman she becomes.

Wynn Malone has skillfully created the backdrop for the life of a wanderer. At each early step Blue has an ambition and a target, she feels she is going somewhere, however far away from her original ambitions. We get a complete picture with setting, friends, lovers and a life created. As the years progress, however, the story gets bleaker and we hope for some deliverance from the cold place she ends up inhabiting.

The characters are worthy of note. Not only Blue and Grace but a whole cast from the whimsical author Cecelia,  to the charming Preacher and Mary. Each one is drawn with a level of care and attention to detail that brings them alive on the page. Our key players have a journey to travel. Blue literally, Grace metaphysically. At different times we want to wring both their necks for wasting their lives. Until they can both move forward they are stuck in the prison of the choices they once made.

Wynn Malone biogAt every stage we can empathize with the players involved, Blue’s pain, Aunt Julie’s frustration, even Grace’s cowardice. Finding the Grain is one of those books that makes you want a happy ending so badly you almost can’t bare to keep reading in case it goes wrong, but at the same time you cant possibly stop and not find out.

I read it in one sitting, literally couldn’t put it down. Very high on my favorite new books list and certainly on the re-read shelf, I sincerely hope Wynn Malone has another one in the pipeline.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 397 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bywater Books (February 10, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00H6UZYIA
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