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 Historical Fiction Review    

 

A Flower Blooms on Charlotte Street: A Novel
by Milam McGraw Propst
Mercer University Press, 1999
Hardcover, $18.95 (170 pages)
ISBN:  0-86554-626-6
 
 

In the tradition of Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Avonlea, Milam McGraw Propst has created a young heroine who survives a great loss through determination, humor and curiosity.  A Flower Blooms on Charlotte Street captures the lifestyle and events at the turn of the last century. 

After the death of her mother, 10 year-old Ociee Nash is to leave her father and brothers in Mississippi to be raised as a lady by her aunt in Asheville, North Carolina.  Her adventures start in Mississippi where she and her brother Ben discover a gypsy wagon on their farm.  The gypsy stares the children away with shouts that he will eat them.  Later, Ociee befriends the gypsy when he returns her mother's locket that she lost at his wagon.  She explains that she is to leave home and shows him the picture of her mother.  He catches her train while on its journey and presents her with a painted image of her mother smiling. 

Ociee's trip and switching trains in Chattanooga is a history lesson of the region as the conductor tells her about the Battle in the Clouds during the Civil Wars.  Once she reaches Asheville, she sees a modern city changing for the new century as the Vanderbilts build Biltmore Estate. 

The emotions within the novel are tender and endearing as Ociee learns to sew from her Aunt Mamie, befriends a carriage driver and his horse, and shares the joys of girlhood with her best friend Elizabeth.  There is an intense moment as Elizabeth's family home burns one cold night, and she has to move away till it is rebuilt.  Ociee makes sure the workmen stay on schedule by checking their work each day.

Milam McGraw Propst was named Georgia Author of the Year for First Novel in 2000, and A Flower Blooms on Charlotte Street was awarded the Parent's Choice Award.  The novel has qualities to draw adult and young readers.  It would be an excellent selection for Mother-Daughter Book Clubs.

 

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

 

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