McLarey is a storyteller of rare quality.
Her debut novel Water from the Well paints a mural of time
and place, spanning almost a hundred years in southwest Arkansas.
Like the red night that opens the first story, the book is filled
with images that color symbolizes – passion, violence and blood.
six stories that form the novel’s timeline, follow the lives of the
people of the white community Sugars Spring and the black community of Bethel,
which the whites call Chickenham. McLarey
captures the elements of both communities through the complex
personalities of her characters. She
gives a realistic portrayal of the racial relationships in the South.
Sky at Night” opens with a 1919 baseball game between the men of Sugars
Spring and Chickenham. The
sexual tension builds as the women watch the strength and power of the
black players. That evening
in the Sugars Spring bedrooms, testosterone rises as husbands do their best
to prove they are the better men. The
passion and violence continues the next day in “Red Sky at Morning” as
a tornado takes its toll on the communities.
The scene is choreography at it’s finest as two women walk slowly
out of its path; as a young black mother flies through the air and dies
while her ‘Baby’ lives; and as a young white mother flies through the
air clutching her son yet survives as she hangs by her red hair from a
Leaving” finds the infant who survived the tornado as a young woman living
with her grandmother and great-grandmother. Believing she was saved for something big, she goes to St. Louis and chooses the name ‘Jasmine Rose.’
Like the tornado, Baby’s life is touched by abuse and chaos.
is strong in “The Choosing of Little Jewel” and “The Salvation of
Cora Emery McRae.” Both are
touching love stories, where the women prove to be feisty and strong.
McLarey chose the novel's title from an old spiritual in which Jesus gave a woman living water and not water from the well. But like the woman receiving living water, McLarey’s novel will send the reader away singing.
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