The Ballad of Laurel Springs
From the internationally bestselling author of The Atomic City Girls, a provocative new novel about multiple generations of women in one East Tennessee family haunted by violence and redeemed by their rich inheritance of folk music.
Ten-year-old Grace is in search of a subject for her fifth-grade history project when she learns that her four times-great grandfather once stabbed his lover to death. His grisly act was memorialized in a murder ballad, her aunt tells her, so it must be true. But the lessons of that revelation—to be careful of men, and desire—are not just Grace’s to learn. Her family’s tangled past is part of a dark legacy in which the lives of generations of women are affected by the violence immortalized in folksongs like “Knoxville Girl” and “Pretty Polly” reminding them always to know their place—or risk the wages of sin.
Janet Beard’s stirring novel, informed by her love of these haunting ballads, vividly imagines these women, defined by the secrets they keep, the surprises they uncover, and the lurking sense of menace that follows them throughout their lives. With the same rich sense of place as Bloodroot or Serena, The Ballad of Laurel Springs is an unforgettable portrait of women fighting to make a safe place in the world for themselves and the people they love.
The Atomic City Girls
“What you see here, what you hear here, what you do here, let it stay here.”
In November 1944, eighteen-year-old June Walker boards an unmarked bus, destined for a city that doesn’t officially exist. Oak Ridge, Tennessee has sprung up in a matter of months—a town of trailers and segregated houses, 24-hour cafeterias, and constant security checks. There, June joins hundreds of other young girls operating massive machines whose purpose is never explained. They know they are helping to win the war, but must ask no questions and reveal nothing to outsiders.
Evenings are spent flirting at dances and movies, bowling alleys and canteens. While June wants to know more about their top-secret assignment and begins an affair with Sam Cantor, the young physicist from New York who understands the end goal only too well, her beautiful roommate Cici’s goal is to find a wealthy husband and escape her sharecropper roots. Across town, African-American construction worker Joe Brewer knows nothing of the government’s plans, only that his new job pays enough to make it worth leaving his family behind, at least for now. But a breach in security will intertwine his fate with June’s search for answers.
When the bombing of Hiroshima brings the truth about Oak Ridge into devastating focus, June must confront her ideals about loyalty, patriotism, and war itself.
Beneath the Pines
In 1957, Mary Alice was a rebellious teenager in love with a rich Yankee boy who had just moved to her small Virginia mountain town—much to the chagrin of her God-fearing mother, Lavinia. By 2004, Mary Alice has become a spinster biology teacher who hasn’t spoken to her mother in over forty years.
When Lavinia dies, Mary Alice’s niece, Claire, inherits the family house and moves to Virginia, bringing along a deep curiosity about her family’s dark past—and plenty of emotional baggage of her own.