Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks

Over the Plain Houses

"A spellbinding story of witchcraft and disobedience." — NPR      It’s 1939 and the federal government has sent USDA agent Virginia Furman into the North Carolina mountains to instruct families on modernizing their homes and farms.There she meets farm wife Irenie Lambey, who is immediately drawn to the lady agent's self-possession. Already, cracks are emerging in Irenie's fragile marriage to Brodis, an ex-logger turned fundamentalist preac...


Details Over the Plain Houses

TitleOver the Plain Houses
Author
Release DateMay 1st, 2016
PublisherHub City Press
LanguageEnglish
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, American, Southern
Rating

Reviews Over the Plain Houses

  • Diane Barnes
    2016-11-14
    When thinking about how to rate this book, I wavered between 4 and 5 stars. What tipped it over the edge was when I realized that this is a book I will most likely re-read at some point.It is unbelievable that this is a first novel. The quality of the writing is haunting and believable at the same time. The natural world surrounding these people in the Appalachians in 1939 is depicted so beautifully it can take your breath away. The dissolution o...
  • Laura
    2016-04-27
    Haunting and I loved it. Some sensitive content. This author's debut novel is excellent. The details are perfect to the point everything can be visualized.
  • Praxedes
    2016-08-27
    I am so impressed with Franks' debut novel --it reads like that of a seasoned author. The novel showcases her skill and maturity at crafting story arcs that flow into each other like eddies in a stream. It is a beautifully written book and a sheer pleasure to read.And the imagery is superb, grounded in the setting's rural feel: lush, ethereal, and pregnant with unspoken thoughts. It perfectly captures the main characters' bucolic lives and attitu...
  • Marjorie
    2016-02-04
    Irenie Lambey is a dedicated farm wife married to a preacher, Brodis Lambey. The story takes place in 1939. Brodis has some very rigid rules for his church members and his family and is often very hard and unyielding in his beliefs. Irenie feels suffocated in the life she lives with Brodis and starts sneaking out at night to take walks in the woods just to be alone. When Brodis discovers these night time wanderings, he believes his wife has becom...
  • Kirk Smith
    2016-08-05
    Dark and beautifully written. I was amazed by how well crafted it was, the prose was nearly poetic yet never distracted from the story line. The language seemed to fit Appalachia and nature is beautifully depicted. Tough subject matter here, oppression of spirit, the bondage created by unwanted pregnancy, and a zealot's passions. A quote I'll share: "Frazier June was a zealot with the tinder of insanity lit in his eye". This could just as easily ...
  • Claire Fuller
    2017-10-18
    I can't remember where I heard about this book, because it isn't published in the UK, but I managed to get hold of a copy from Book Depository. It's mostly the story of Irenie, who in 1939 lives on a farm with her fervent preacher husband Brodis. Irenie, realising that the flame she had shining inside her since she was a girl has gone out, escapes to the woods in the middle of the night where she hides the things that are precious to her. And at ...
  • Jamie
    2017-11-08
    This is extraordinary. My favorite Appalachian book of the year. My favorite book set in North Carolina; my favorite book for the way it handles the region and its religion. “A spellbinding story of witchcraft and disobedience,” indeed. The way Julia Franks writes the two sides of the story and makes them both not just plausible but sympathetic is, well, extraordinary. The dialogue sounds like home. Will be re-reading this one and praising it...
  • Ruthie
    2017-07-21
    Engrossing read, great descriptions of a time and place.
  • Lauren
    2017-10-08
    Get this book and read it as fast as you can. Run. Don't walk.Among the perfect setting of southern Appalachia in the late 1930s-- Julia Franks weaves the incredible and haunting story of Irenie, a woman who mourns the loss of her child, holds space for herself, and who dares to have any modicum of an opinion against her husband--the town preacher. What ensues tells the tale of what happens time and time again throughout the history of nearly eve...
  • Andrew
    2016-11-05
    3 stars is based on the hope that this novel got better after I had to stop reading it. I read a fascinating OpEd piece by the author in the NY Times last week which made me curious about her other published work. Like many Americans, I am puzzled by the culture wars raging during this election season, and the attitudes of disenfranchised Southerners and Appalachians in particular. Reviews of "Over the Plain Houses" indicated a dark and brooding ...
  • Rebecca Foster
    2016-02-15
    (DNF @ 16%) Entirely decent historical fiction with a flavor of Ron Rash or Virginia Reeves (Work Like Any Other), but it felt so slow and aimless. Irenie Lambey is married to a harsh fundamentalist preacher named Brodis. She longs for their son to get a good education and hopes that the appearance of a USDA agent may be the chance, but Brodis cares about the boy’s soul rather than his mind. On night-time walks, Irenie stores up artifacts and m...
  • Andy Weston
    2017-10-19
    Set on a tobacco farm in North Carolina in the late 1930s this is the story of a struggling marriage. Irenie is seeking refuge from an emotionally and physically abusive marriage to her farmer cum preacher husband Brodis. But first she wants an escape for her son, Matthew, and finds it in the form of a boarding school as soon as he turns 13. Brodis is a religious fundamentalist and lives by the bible, quoting it frequently. Irenie initially manag...
  • Rhiannon Johnson
    2018-05-19
    This novel initially attracted my attention with its black magic/witchcraft theme, but it sat on on my Kindle until the author won the Townsend Prize last month. That sparked me into action and I moved it up on my list. Once I started reading this story, I had a difficult time with it and honestly considered quitting it several times...but I stuck with it. The problem for me was that Julia Frank's writing style is not modern and I found myself re...
  • Rachel
    2016-05-26
    This novel is immaculately constructed, from word choice, to sentence level to plot level. It's set in the mountains of North Carolina in 1939, among farmers being persuaded by the USDA to switch from food crops to tobacco. The story centers on a couple, the daughter of a local farmer married to an ex-logger preacher. Tradition vs. modernity, extreme religion vs. the secular world. The characters are vivid, the setting fully realized. I was under...
  • Kelly
    2016-04-04
    This book was wonderful; I'm a huge fan of world building and the author creates the world of Irenie's and Brodis' farm with such detail that I could have drawn you a map by the end. There is a vivid connection to the nature, too; I felt the seasons and the birds and plants right along with the characters. I thought that Brodis' descent into madness was also really believable; sometimes that sort of thing can be too quick or just boring-like list...
  • Barbara
    2016-10-12
    I've been reading stuff trying to understand the hearts of white supremicists/patriarchal guys with entitlement issues, and this is one of the best. The writing is breathtakingly good. The point of view shifts make the minds of both protagonists clear, and the cost of the rigidity of the patriarch is clear.
  • Diane S ☔
    2016-02-04
    Review to follow.
  • Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
    2017-12-21
    I found this one part lyrical, one part predictable and one part overwrought. I liked the writing, for the most part. excepting the odd painful metaphor, but I found the characterisation and the plot entirely predictable. The ending had a melodramatic inevitability that I predicted from page 20. So, while there was enough to keep me reading, there was little to surprise or delight.
  • Beth Roberts
    2016-07-05
    This book is a beautiful glimpse into the heartbreak that is the dissolution of a marriage and the descent of a spouse into fundamentalist extremist madness. Some of the reviewers dnf'ed it, claiming they couldn't get "into it" and "nothing happens." I always wonder what it is those readers are looking for. This is historical fiction set in 1939 in a poor rural mountain community in the Carolinas. There's no tv, no radio - no excitement. Just the...
  • Eldonna Edwards
    2017-05-23
    This book seriously wrecked me. If, like me, you're drawn to stunning writing with southern roots you must get your hands on a copy of OVER THE PLAIN HOUSES by Julia Franks. Reading her book was the closest I've come to literary synesthesia. Descriptions of the Appalachian landscape kindled a poetic immersion into the setting without any hint of author intrusion or grandstanding. I fell in love with the writing first, which then lured me into the...
  • Pamela
    2016-07-14
    I did not want this book to end. Beautifully written like poetry, a spellbinding story about the harsh and primitive struggles of a young woman married to a fundamentalist Appalachian preacher. A peek into the past where superstitions and misunderstood beliefs provide excuses for self-righteous mean behavior. Historical fiction at its best.
  • Jess
    2017-07-31
    Started out rough but got pretty interesting! Liked the ending. It's written differently than I've read before. Sometimes I didn't know what they were trying to say but overall the story was okay.
  • Jennifer Cannady
    2017-09-24
    Beautifully written. Well developed characters and dialogue that completely captures both a sense of time and place.
  • kristin connor
    2017-09-17
    This is not the novel I thought it was when I first began reading. It is a story that infuriates, that inspires deep pity, that leaves you with tears in your eyes while simultaneously has you shaking your fists in anger. And yet, somehow, you can't hate any of the characters. It reveals the humanity in even those deemed to be monsters. It reveals the roots and causes of much of our society's "white rage". It examines two characters without judgme...
  • Dan Pool
    2017-09-17
    Awesome Appalachian fiction.
  • Laurie
    2016-11-17
    Not sure what to say...it is one of my book club reads. It started off a little odd and then I was intrigued and couldn't put it down until I knew what happened to Irenie, Matthew, Brodis and the Extension Office agents. It presents an interesting time in American history in an interesting part of rural North Carolina. Powerful issues around the strength of the church and how it and the powerful men in the church controlled women during the 1930'...
  • Margaret1358 Joyce
    2017-07-14
    Here is a poignant tale of the trials of an Appalachian family on the eve of WW2, when the industrial world is crowding into remote country farming areas, bringing "efficiency"--novel and upsetting changes-- to agricultural practices and social values, to the distress of those rooted in traditions bred of the land. The family is fundamentalist, the father a fire and brimstone preacher, and mother, fearful of what she begins to see as the demonic ...
  • Candy
    2016-05-09
    I enjoyed this book for many reasons, but I guess the main one is because it is set right in the mountains where I live. I enjoyed reading the names of places near here and I also loved how the author captured the "old sayings" and the dialect of the people here. The story itself was a slow build to a disastrous and very unexpected conclusion and was indeed wonderful.
  • Pamela Van Arsdale
    2016-07-09
    A slow, methodical read. So much there that isn't said. It's kind of haunting and beautiful- the imagery of the birds and insects is amazing. It will be a long time before I forget the scene with the hawk!