In West Mills by De'Shawn Charles Winslow

In West Mills

For readers of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie and The Turner House, an intimately told story about a woman living by her own rules and the rural community that struggles to understand her.Azalea “Knot” Centre is determined to live life as she pleases. Let the people of West Mills say what they will; the neighbors’ gossip won’t keep Knot from what she loves best: cheap moonshine, nineteenth-century literature, and the company of men. And yet,...

Details In West Mills

TitleIn West Mills
Release DateJun 4th, 2019
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Cultural, African American

Reviews In West Mills

  • Angela M
    “Why you so set on bein lonely, Knot.” Otis Lee Loving, Knot’s best friend and neighbor asks the question, but I’m not sure I ever found an answer here, and I’m not sure that Knot knew the answer herself. But she does know enough about herself to make decisions that we may not agree with, but are better for some like the two babies she gives up. “I woulda kept that child if I didn’t care ‘bout her.” Azalea Centre known as Knot i...
  • Elyse Walters
    Hats off to debut author *De’Shawn Charles Winslow*!!!!! I’m memorizing his name!!! *De’Shawn Charles Winslow* is sooooooo talented!!! His writing is indisputable, unequivocal, irrefutable, genuine, infallible, delicious, intimate, witty, moving, heartwarming & heartbreaking, imaginary, soothing, compassionate, gratifying, nuanced, beautiful, and hunky-dory ENJOYABLE!!!!!*Azalea Centre*....who everyone calls **Knot**....loves .....( in no p...
  • Diane S ☔
    Following the lives of a group of people in North Carolina, West Mills, the book opens with a young woman telling her boyfriend to get out. Meet Azalea, nicknamed Knot, a hard drinking, hard loving woman, who wants to live her life, her way. Took a while for me to warm up to her. I definitely don't approve of many things she does,, but by books end, despite her abrasivesness, she won me over. The book takes place over four decades in this black c...
  • Michelle
    What a debut!! Everyone should put De'Shawn Charles Winslow on their list of authors to watch!This wasn't on my radar at all, but Buzzfeed listed this as a must read for summer and the short synopsis was all I needed to sell me. It was a delightful read (a shorter one too) that was simply just such a feel good book. Feel good, not because the characters had it easy (they most certainly didn't), but it was like coming home when I opened it each ti...
  • Stacy Campbell
    In West Mills is not a debut novel. It can’t be. From the first line of the novel, I knew I was in for a Southern adventure. What I didn’t anticipate was the familiarity of the journey. Azalea “Knot” Centre is the woman other women hate, and the woman men slap their thighs in tribute and regret as she passes. Even her arrival in West Mills left one citizen off-kilter for years. This is the magic of De’Shawn Charles Winslow’s storytell...
  • Never Without a Book™
    De’Shawn Charles Winslow’s debut novel In West Mills, spans from 1941 to 1987, twenty-six-year-old Ornery Azalea aka knot moves to a small black community in West Mills, North Carolina to get away from her family and to keep her drinking (her over love of moonshine) on the lo. Knot is living her best life with booze and books. Lol!Her male best friend Otis Lee lives next door with his “Gossip Queen” wife Pep. Otis is such a sweet and lov...
  • Jessica Woodbury
    When you think of a historical family saga you probably start thinking about large estates, upstairs/downstairs intrigue, and melodrama. IN WEST MILLS delivers on the drama, but it removes the wealth and whiteness usually associated with this subgenre. It's long overdue and we're lucky that Winslow is one of the writers doing it.The central figures of this novel are Knot and Otis Lee, neighbors in a small North Carolina town for several decades o...
  • Michelle
    "In October of '41, Azalea Centre's man told her that he was sick and tired of West Mills and of the love affair she was having with moonshine. Azalea - everyone called her Knot - reminded him that she was a grown woman." Determined to live life by her own terms, Knot makes the tough decisions and ignores the naysayers and gossip mongers. Despite the freedom that she seems to have in her choices one cannot overlook the pain that she must bear as ...
  • Karen Kay
    I received this from for a review. Knot is determined to live life as she pleases. The neighbors' gossip won't keep Knot from what she loves best: cheap moonshine, nineteenth-century literature, and the company of men. Alone in her one-room shack, ostracized from her relatives and cut off from her hometown, Knot turns to her neighbor, Otis Lee Loving, in search of some semblance of family and home. Wonderful story, good writing and ...
  • Rebecca
    (2.5) I read the first 162 pages out of 257. There are echoes of Toni Morrison (especially Song of Solomon) in this debut novel set in the small fictional town of West Mills, North Carolina. Wilson has crafted a memorable antiheroine in Azalea “Knot” Centre, who likes to pretend she doesn’t care what people think about her but actually cares deeply. Alcohol and sex are her two vices, and in the 1940s her two out-of-wedlock daughters are sec...
  • Tia
    My rating is 4.5 stars Quick thoughts...I was hoping the end wouldn't lose me and it did. I just knew I was confused and there were more pages to turn, ugh! However, I am funny about endings. Especially when I feel like I've been hiking up a steep mountain for weeks, see the top is near, start running, to only realize that I have only two steps to get there and fall right off. I think that made sense of how I'm feeling. This book is one of a kind...
  • Brenda
    “In West Mills” is a novel that spans almost 50 years beginning in 1941. The main character Azalea AKA “Knot” is ornery, fiercely independent, has many vices and refuses to be influenced or told what to do by anyone. A true firecracker, she tells it like it is. She enjoys her moonshine and living life on the edge. In a time where it is necessary to keep many skeletons in the closet, she keeps and hides many secrets. In the 40’s, 50’s,...
  • Stephanie Skees
    A beautifully written novel, In West Mills, transports the reader to an African-American community filled with rich and complex relationships ranging from love, to blurred friendship riddled with a lot of grace and acceptance. Azalea "Knot" Centre is a captivating protagonist with her inability to be bossed around, resistance of a "socially acceptable" lifestyle and relatable love of moonshine. De'Shawn Charles Winslow successfully uses a mix of ...
  • Lisa1170
    3.75 stars. This was an entertaining read. I enjoyed the characters.
  • Carla
    Interesting book, with a wonderful spirited woman at the helm! Set at start in the 1940's in a small rural African American town of North Carolina, this book spans over 40 years. " Knot" won't be kowtowing to anyone. Being her own person also means isolation and abandonment from others in the community who see her as belligerent and self destructive. Being this type of person, lends itself to not having many close friends. She does however find a...
  • Mara
    A solid debut novel that skillfully unfolds the story of a small community over the course of almost 50 years. Knot, one of our main characters, is far and away my favorite part of this novel. I'm just didn't personally really connect to this book, so it's not necessarily one that will stick with me. Still, would recommend this to anyone who finds the description intriguing, as it was very well done.
  • Beverlee
    Freedom is not an abstract concept that is limited to a chosen few based on wealth or social standing. The characters of In West Mills illustrate how this search is personal and long lasting and in some cases never realized. Azalea "Knot" Centre is a newly arrived schoolteacher in the small town of West Mills. In 1941, Knot is not the typical portrayal of teacher as a pillar of the community or a figure reminiscent of the Talented Tenth ideal. Kn...
  • LiteraryMarie
    JUNE 4, 2019In West Mills"She love them damn books of hers more'n she love me." ~ 11%Did you ever read The Turner House? What about The Twelve Tribes of Hattie? Well, this new novel appropriately called In West Mills is of the same vein. It is an intimate story about a woman nicknamed "Knot" that no one understands but accepts as a member of their rural community. Sheeeeeit, Knot can barely understand herself but she is determined to live life as...
  • Dominic
    De'Shawn Charles Winslow's debut novel is the leanest of epic stories. At about 250 pages, Winslow is able to cover entire generations of two families without any unnecessary details. Yet when I finished it, I didn't feel like I missed out on anything. Lean, gorgeous.I actually found myself in the midst of some sudden tears during the first half when I realized that one of the two main protagonists, Knot Centre, is a sort of "Shug Avery" homage. ...
  • Hannah Fenster
    IN WEST MILLS is, at its core, an invitation: a welcome to the vast universe inside a small town, where personalities loom larger than buildings and relationship histories provide the backdrop for all other events. Smart and trusting of its readers, it slips you names and secrets so fast you’ll start to think you’ve always known them. Yes, this novel opens kitchens and porches to us with undeniable generosity—and it reveals the intimate exp...
  • Maxie
    The narrative takes place in a small African American community during the 1940s through the 1970s. Embedded in this delightful and inspiring read the audience is taken through the trials and tribulations of a strong, feisty African American young lady who suffers the inequalities of the American society. Knot touched me as a reader and a woman who experiences many of the doubts and negative impressions inflicted on young women who want to follow...
  • Beverly
    This was a 4.5 read for me.thoughts coming shortly
  • Patricia Romero
    Azalea Marie Centre aka Knot, a nickname from her father. We follow her story from 1941 to 1987. She has moved to the town of West Mills, North Carolina to teach school. Or to be out from under her family, either way, she's here and she's a complete mystery to the town folk of this African-American town.At a time when single women weren't swilling down moonshine on the regular nor enthralled with 19th Century literature and for goodness sakes, th...
  • James Beggarly
    What a fun and warm book. Azalea ‘Knot’ Centre is an amazing character, who speaks her mind at all times and seems to love men, moonshine and Dickens equally. It’s wonderful to spend forty years with her, her lifelong friend Otis Lee and all their family and friends and the secrets they all try and keep from each other in a small town in North Carolina. A smart book that is told with great humor and heart.
  • Kim
    One of the things modernity has taken away is the concept of a neighborhood. One where people take care of each other through good times and bad. Where everyone knows everyone else and can recite your family tree through several generations. For better and for worse.This refreshing novel takes place in North Carolina and spans several decades, from 1941 to 1987. Life moves slowly. Gossip and judgement spread like wildfire. For some, a reputation ...
  • Lorrea - WhatChaReadin'?
    3.5 Stars!!The town of West Mills is a small close knit community. Everyone knows everyone and keeping your business to yourself isn't necessarily something that happens. Knot is a teacher in West Mills but when she is not teaching, she likes to drink her moonshine and enjoy time with her men friends. When her long time friend leaves town, Knot goes down the rabbit hole. And things for her take a change that no one expects coming. Knot's neighbor...
  • Tabitha
    Spanning about 50 years, "In West Mills" tells the story of Knot, a strong-willed, hard-drinking woman who just wants to live life on her own terms. It also tells the story of those around her -- Otis Lee and Pep, especially -- and the town itself. It's a simple story, but with great characters and plenty of layers.
  • Wambui
    Bitter Sweet.