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Publisher's Summary

Oral History, the lyrical saga of a Virginia mountain family, follows four generations of Cantrells over more than a century. With each chapter, Lee Smith, a master of regional voices, adds another branch to a family tree that sings with secrets and sadness, beauty and joy. Researching an assignment for an Oral History course, Jennifer drives to the Virginia hills where her mother and father grew up. Raised by a stepmother, the young college student wonders why her father never talks of her real mother or relatives. So from the moment she steps out of the car, Jennifer is intrigued by the mystery of her heritage. One by one, the Cantrells tell of lives filled with vitality, colored by the land and family history. Through the voices of a full cast of narrators, Lee Smith's remarkable novel becomes a truly extraordinary listening experience.
©1983 Lee Smith (P)2003 Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Linda
  • Yacolt, WA, United States
  • 02-17-12

What a treat!

This is so well written and performed you feel as if you are right there. Oral histories have been with us since long before written language began. Story telling is becoming a lost art. This is as close as most of us will come. Outstanding.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Not my favorite Lee Smith title...

I enjoyed this book, but it is definitely not my favorite of Lee Smith's wonderful books. If you are not familiar with her work, please do not start out with this book. Some of the narrators were off and all wrong for the characters I felt.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

???

While I truly enjoy learning about various times in US history, and the multi-generational stories have a certain appeal, I really don't see the point to this book. I admit--I have listened to it day in and day out. Call it a character flaw--my mom told me to finish what I start. Finishing this book is killing me..... There isn't enough time in this world--go in a different direction.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Lee Smith's best <br /><br />

Here is a story that is life in all its layers, an oral history of a place told best aloud by those who lived it.

There is so much here, yet not so much, really, as Sally said. It's just history, it's the past, it doesn't matter, but clearly it does.

What a tale this is, and it's the kind of story that will stay with you, for better or worse, for a long, long time.

Lee Smith captured all that matters in Oral History. Read the book, but by all means, listen to it. on tape, as oral histories are meant to be presented.

Lee Smith's world is like none other. I envy anyone who is just begun to know it.