Set against the backdrop of the historic flooding of the Mississippi River, The Tilted World is an extraordinary tale of murder and moonshine, sandbagging and saboteurs, and a man and a woman who find unexpected love, from Tom Franklin, the acclaimed author of the New York Times best-seller Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, and award-winning poet Beth Ann Fennelly.
The year is 1927. As rains swell the Mississippi, the mighty river threatens to burst its banks and engulf everything in its path, including federal revenue agent Ted Ingersoll and his partner, Ham Johnson. Arriving in the tiny hamlet of Hobnob, Mississippi, to investigate the disappearance of two fellow agents who'd been on the trail of a local bootlegger, they are astonished to find a baby boy abandoned in the middle of a crime scene.
Ingersoll, an orphan raised by nuns, is determined to find the infant a home, and his search leads him to Dixie Clay Holliver. A strong woman married too young to a philandering charmer, Dixie Clay has lost a child to illness and is powerless to resist this second chance at motherhood. From the moment they meet, Ingersoll and Dixie Clay are drawn to each other. He has no idea that she's the best bootlegger in the county and may be connected to the agents' disappearance. And while he seems kind and gentle, Dixie Clay knows full well that he is an enemy who can never be trusted.
When Ingersoll learns that a saboteur might be among them, planning a catastrophe along the river that would wreak havoc in Hobnob, he knows that he and Dixie Clay will face challenges and choices that they will be fortunate to survive. Written with extraordinary insight and tenderness, The Tilted World is that rarest of creations, a story of seemingly ordinary people who find hope and deliverance where they least expect it - in each other.
©2013 Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers
I LOVED it.
I am about to say something that I have never written in a review. I am sad I only had 5 stars to give it.
The Tilted World is an epic novel set against the dynamic backdrop of The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. Being raised a Yankee, I have NEVER previously heard about this event in American History. Living in the day where tomorrow morning’s news shows will be on location at tonight’s disaster, it’s hard to imagine that there once was a time when no one showed up to such a catastrophic event especially in the light of long advanced warnings.
One of the other greatest books I read this year was Tom Franklin’s, Crooked Letter Crooked Letter. Finding that wonderful book was blind luck. I now have him dialed in, for in my opinion, as a writer he is close to perfection. Because of that, I did not read the synopsis given by the publisher before purchasing or starting this novel. Afterwards when I did, I felt fortunate that I was spared. The summary is too detailed and would take away from the suspense and surprise.
In Tilted World Franklin teams up with poet wife, Beth Ann Fennelly for their first combined book. What a melodious match it is. It’s magical. I am betting that she had a close relationship with the Dixie character for the words given her and the forest were so elegantly versed and imaginative. The mind numbing descriptive phrases throughout just give this work an added layer that I so appreciate. I was completely absorbed in this book throughout. The story is engulfing with lots of twists and turns. Normally I avoid multiple authors. This is a fine pairing.
Brian D’arcy James did a fabulous narration performance. He transported me to a different time and space. Yes, he has a few “text to speech” type issues with numbers towards the end that should have been caught in editing.
The only thing necessary to tell you about the story is that a great historical flood is about to come to small area of Mississippi. There are heroes as well has opportunists and antagonists. There’s romance, strife, endurance, conflict and a baby.
Seriously, do you really need more?
A musician and songwriter from the Boston area. I like "Regular Guy" books. No chick Lit, no zombies, or vampires please. No politics.
The thing I enjoyed most about this book is that it makes you actually care about and even worry about the characters in the story. With this story the reader gets to gain some historical insight about the south in the year 1927.
All of them were memorable, but Ted Ingersoll was my kind of guy.
Great narration and articulation, various voices.
If you want a good story, memorable characters, and a sense of history during prohibition and what can happen in a natural disaster, this is for you. I think this book would make a great movie. I'd love to see this story on the big screen.
I'm addicted to Audible. A new grandma I am responsible for my grandsons library, which reignited my interest in books.
Depth to the characters.
The story was interesting and the characters had depth. There were pieces that drug a bit but the book was more good than bad.
The quality of both narrative prose and dialog, the fully developed characters, the dark story told with lightness and energy.
Jesse and Ham conversation.
James' minor, very subtle vocal changes among characters was the best thing about the audiobook--letting the story tell itself, without the need for a "performance". Bravo
I would never "rate" or "review" a book based on this factor. If a reader says 'yes', then another says "no', I say "so what" to either and both.
More books need to be simply read rather than "performed". If people want a performance, go to a stage play. Wish narrators would leave the story alone--do they actually expect to improve on an author's work? Gosh I hope not; all they can do is detract from a book I want to enjoy.
"The tree swayed under her like a ship, and she the masthead, facing into the storm."
Narrator Brian D'Arcy James brought this tale to life with a vivid performance. I only have one suggestion to improve the audio experience: The hero, Ted Ingersoll, plays the guitar and occasionally sings old folks songs, war songs, prison songs, etc. Music of the era was integrated into the plot in several scenes. Too bad the narrator didn't sing the brief song excerpts. I would have liked that (if James can carry a tune).
The story is told in 3rd person POV, transitioning from the hero to the heroine. This historically based fiction is set in April 1927 in Louisiana, when bootlegged moonshine was prohibited and the Mississippi River flooded seven states -- to date the worst river flood in US history.
The plot is part historically-based natural disaster account, part sweet romance complete with a happy-ever-after, and part undercover agent thriller. Contents include a few fade-out sex scenes, violence and murder, swearing and profanity, and several baby scenes.
The three main protagonists are likable (with some reservations about Dixie Clay) and the plot is historically interesting and engrossing, involving bootlegging, baby care, prohibition, rain, rain, and more rain (the flood), and politicking for the presidency.
The scenes with the baby feel realistic. Sweet scenes, when the big bad Federal Agent went soft for Junior, trying to pin a diaper in him, trying to feed him, heal him, hold him, etc.
The flood scenes are vividly portrayed. I especially recall one small house tumbling along in the rapid current, a boy leaping upon the spinning structure like a champion barrel racer.
However, I felt frustrated because the pace was annoying. The authors kept detouring into the past, slowing the pace to the viscosity of mud. So many memories! Dixie Clay's memories of her childhood in Alabama, of meeting and eventually marrying bootlegger Jessie Holliver and losing her beloved baby Jacob to fever. Agent Ted Ingersol's memories of the orphanage where he grew up, his escapades in WWI with Ham Johnson. Memories also included how Ham and Ingersol became Federal Revenue Agents, eventually reporting to Herbert Hoover himself.
It wasn't until about three-fourths into the book that things started flowing along rapidly, like the flooding Mississippi itself. If the book had more forward momentum, I would have enjoyed the audio more.
However, the romance aspect was very sweet. Ingersoll is my kind of hero! Loved him. Ham is a fun character, too, a huge red-headed Scot whose full name -- I felt sure -- must be Hamish. He's full of fire and always hamming it up.
The historical element was interesting. I learned something new. Lots of vivid and descriptive scenes of the exploding levee and the catastrophic flood itself.
Not enough about racial inequity and the Black migration north.
Good but not great. It's a bit overrated, both as a story and as a slice of history, but better than most books on the market.
I bought this audiobook because I really liked most of Tom Franklin's early work, particularly his short story collection. I am a little worried that the early promise is falling short, although I admit that my expectations may be too high, or unrealistic.
This story is driven so hard by historical events, it seems to me, that the characters themselves are slaves to those events and are not really free to become real people (as opposed to fictional characters, which they do become). I think the plot is driven too often by the need to reach a certain end, and not by the logic of the characters themselves. You can see the events coming too far in advance. The storytelling itself is certainly credible and makes you want to continue listening, but the fact that the characters are flimsy disappoints.
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