The Moonflower Vine

The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton

This is a family saga that stretches over several decades in the lives of Matthew and Callie, and their four daughters. Matthew is a country schoolteacher in Missouri, keeping a farm with his wife Callie around the turn of the century. The narrative is nonchronological, told from the point of view of each family member, in turns.

The beginning of the book is kind of slow going, detailing the many small tasks of farm life. It picks up when Jessica, the oldest daughter, starts falling in love with the hired man, and the family faces its first real crisis. Each family member has their own moral dilemna to face. Each of them in some way must make a choice between personal happiness and the family’s, or between honesty and hiding a shameful truth. It’s kind of sentimental in style, quoting the Bible and making grand claims about life, God, and heaven, but that seems to proceed from the characters’ own thoughts and beliefs.

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