Over the Plain Houses (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Irenie and Brodis Lambey run a farm in the North Carolina mountains in the late 1930's He is an ex-logger who has become a fundamentalist preacher and Irenie and their son Matthew toil on the land. When a female USDA agent comes to town to teach new ways of housekeeping and farming, Irenie is fascinated by a look at a different way of life for herself and her son. As she changes, Brodis comes to believe the dark ways of the devil has taken over his wife and his anger at all things government put his faith to the test. The outcome is explosive. Franks has captured the tone and cadence of this time and place perfectly and I found myself both spellbound and disturbed.

— Edie


"A spellbinding story of witchcraft and disobedience." - NPR

An NPR Best Book of 2016

An NPR Book of the Year - Winner of the 2017 Southern Book Prize

Indie Next Pick, May 2016 - Gold IPPY Award, Literary Fiction

It's 1939, and the federal government has sent USDA agent Virginia Furman into the North Carolina mountains to instruct families on modernizing their homes and farms. There she meets farm wife Irenie Lambey, who is immediately drawn to the lady agent's self-possession. Already, cracks are emerging in Irenie's fragile marriage to Brodis, an ex-logger turned fundamentalist preacher: She has taken to night ramblings through the woods to escape her husband's bed, storing strange keepsakes in a mountain cavern. To Brodis, these are all the signs that Irenie--tiptoeing through the dark in her billowing white nightshirt--is practicing black magic.

When Irenie slips back into bed with a kind of supernatural stealth, Brodis senses that a certain evil has entered his life, linked to the lady agent, or perhaps to other, more sinister forces.

Working in the stylistic terrain of Amy Greene and Bonnie Jo Campbell, this award-winning debut by Julia Franks is the story of a woman intrigued by the possibility of change, escape, and reproductive choice--stalked by a Bible-haunted man who fears his government and stakes his integrity upon an older way of life. As Brodis chases his demons, he brings about a final act of violence that shakes the entire valley. In this spellbinding Southern story, Franks bares the myths and mysteries that modernity can't quite dispel.

About the Author

Julia Franks has roots in the Appalachian Mountains and has spent years kayaking the rivers and creeks of Tennessee, North Carolina, and West Virginia. She lives in Atlanta, where she teaches literature and runs loosecanon.com, a web service that fosters free-choice reading in the classroom.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781938235344
ISBN-10: 1938235347
Publisher: Hub City Press
Publication Date: September 19th, 2017
Pages: 280
Language: English