Saturday, October 3, 2015

Book Review of A LONG TIME GONE by Karen White

a long time gone is the story of the Walker women of Mississippi. It centers
around present day Walker woman, Vivien, childless and abandoned by her husband, and 1920s Walker woman, Adelaide, Vivien's great grandmother.

Upper Mississippi River

Everyone has their own reasons for choosing a book. I love a mystery and was first attracted to the puzzle found in the back blurb. When an ancient cypress growing toward the rear of Walker property is hit by lightning, the old tree keels over exposing roots with a grisly secret tangled amongst them - the long buried body of an unknown woman. I wanted to find out who she was and why she was buried there. And so I began to read.

I was drawn in by the setting - where it took place and when it took place. I looked up the area to learn something about Indian Mound, Mississippi. After a bit of research I found that Indian Mound was a fictional town. (correct me if I'm wrong) However, I also learned  that Mississippian culture had been a mound-building Native American civilization from about 800 to 1600AD. Clever.

Monks Mound
The roots to the identity of the unknown woman buried on Walker land stretched all the way back to the 1920s and prohibition. The 18th Amendment banned the sale, production, importation, and transportation of intoxicating liquors. Prohibition was supposed to reduce crime but it backfired horribly. Tell people they can't have something and they suddenly develop an insatiable desire for it and will get it any way they can.


Rebellion against prohibition gave rise to bootlegging. Smuggling the illegal alcohol became big business and bootleggers used bribery, armed guards and medical licenses to circumvent the law.


With fortunes to be made, bootlegging attracted a huge criminal element and gangsters fought to control local bootlegging activities. Ruthless criminals like Al Capone did not stop at intimidation and murder to maintain dominance in this lucrative business.

Al Capone

As if that weren't bad enough, the KKK broadened its message of hate to include Catholics, Jews, foreigners and bootleggers. Their membership surged upwards to almost 8,000,000.

Klu Klux Klan

Bootlegging, gangsters and the KKK invaded the lives of normal law-abiding men and women with disastrous results and the characters in a long time gone were no exception.

The more time I spent in the 1920s, the more attached I became to Adelaide and her story and the more concerned I was that events from this dangerous period had spread their pernicious roots into the present.

When the identity of the woman under cypress tree was revealed I'd either be relieved or despondent. My anxiety kept me turning pages.

If you've enjoyed Kate Morton's, the Secret Keeper and the Forgotten Garden, you will enjoy a long time gone as well. Although a quicker read, a long time gone is a poignant story that will stay with you well after you've said goodbye to the Walker women of Indian Mound, Mississippi. A five star read for sure.

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