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General Fiction Review      


Plant Life
By Pamela Duncan
Delacorte Press, 2003
Hardcover, $23.95 ( 304 pages)
ISBN: 0-385-33523-7

Generations of southern men and women have given their life's blood and earned their living working in "plants."  Pamela Duncan's second novel, set in Russell, North Carolina, explores the relationships forged in "plant life."

Laurel Granger's mother, Pansy, has worked at the plant her entire adult life. As a young woman, she had dreams of going away to art school, getting a teaching degree, and returning to her hometown in the hope of enriching community life. Having grown up in Russell, she knows firsthand how the rumors of lay-offs, cutbacks, and selling the plant effects families.

Pansy's mother, Maw Bert, knew such dreams had the power to kill Pansy's spirit. As a young woman, she too, dreamed of a better life. In Laurel, both women, have lived out their dream of going to college, moving away, and escaping plant life. 

When Laurel's fifteen year marriage to Scott comes undone, in the hope of protecting herself from small town gossip, she doesn't tell anyone of the recent changes in her life before her annual Christmas visit. While Pansy knows something is seriously wrong, she believes Laurel will talk with her in her own time. 

On New Year's Eve, Laurel's secret is inadvertently revealed by a former classmate. As always, her parents offer her comfort and support; but, to Laurel's surprise, the women of the plant rally to extend the friendship, love, and stories they've shared with her mother to Laurel as well. 

Duncan intertwines the lives of multiple generations of plant women telling the story of a quiet and welcomed homecoming. 

Pamela Duncan was born in Asheville, North Carolina and grew up in Black Mountain, Swannanoa, and Shelby, North Carolina. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.A. in English from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, she currently lives in Graham, North Carolina. Moon Women, her debut novel, is available in paperback.


Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

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