The Kingston Trio’s folk song “Tom Dooley” tells the story of the murder of Laura Foster, a simple country girl involved with returning Confederate soldier Tom Dula. But Tom was also engaged in a passionate affair with his childhood sweetheart, the beautiful - and married - Ann Melton. One May morning in 1866, Laura Foster stole her father’s horse and left home, telling a neighbor that she was eloping to Tennessee. Three months later, her body was found in a shallow grave only a few hundred yards from where she was last seen. The sensational elements in the case attracted national attention: a man and his married lover accused of murdering the other woman; the former governor of North Carolina, spearheading the defense; and a noble gesture from the condemned man on the eve of his execution, saving the woman he really loved.
With the help of Wilkes County historians and researchers, author Sharyn McCrumb visited the actual sites, studied the legal evidence, and concluded that the traditional story did not make sense. Consulting the maps, the trial transcripts, and the census records, she uncovered a missing piece of the story that will shock those who think they already know what happened.
What seemed at first to be a sordid tale of adultery and betrayal has been transformed by new discoveries into an Appalachian Wuthering Heights. The fictional retelling of the historical account became an astonishing revelation of the real motives and the real culprit in the murder of Laura Foster.
©2011 Sharyn McCrumb (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
I had my hopes up, hearing that McCrumb is a great southern writer. Not so much with this attempt. Badly edited, there are entire passages that are identical; so much so that at one point I thought I'd inadvertently skipped backwards. The story, large in scope, with complex characters, here is narrowed down to a single sociopathic viewpoint. The attempt to provide counterpoint with Zeb Vance's voice is not enough. Everyone in this book comes off petty, mean, hateful, and at the end, it just leaves a bad taste in the mouth. The final insult is the reader. She reads the book, but she does not act it. The anti-heroine, Pauline Foster is read in a soft, light sing-song. The inner rage and resentment that fuel her world view and her actions are nowhere to be found. She could only manage one Southern accent, so that when she had to be, say, the rich planter or the doctor, she was reduced to a northern accent to make them sound cultured and intelligent. A Southern book deserves more complexity than that. I might try this book again on the page as the reader just butchered it, but I don't hope for much.
Life long fan of the mystery story. I like books where something actually happens, so history and biography are favorites of mine also. I also think that even good books are improved tremendously when an actor performs the narration.
Sharon McCrumb is so talented, and I was hoping for some insight into the ballad, but this gave me no more than the song, really. I don't understand the reason for the two narrators. I was originally intrigued by Pauline, but she quickly dissolved into a one dimensional villain. Zebulon Vance provided history of the 1860's, but didn't provide any information or insight. I don't know what his purpose in the story was supposed to be.
We all know that the South lost the Civil War, that rural life is hard in the 19th Century, and that Tom Dooley dies, I wanted a better back story than this.
What an interesting plot! There are mean people all over the place from every time period and this points it out!
I have a reading comprehension problem. I prefer to read aloud to another person or have a person and I go back and forth with reading aloud. It doesn't help that I never much cared for the story of Tom Dula and Laura Foster even though I live in the county this legend is from.
My favorite character is Pauline Foster. She is so magnificently nefarious. She has manipulated everyone and no one seems to notice. She has the simple wish to just watch Anne crash and burn.
I don't have a favorite scene, but I do enjoy many of the lines of Pauline Foster. Her wickedness shines though everything. She has the power and has the ability to hide it and make the situations worse. She portrays this through her worst of lines. She knew what she was doing and didn't seem have any remorse to watch her kin fall flat.
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