Sharyn McCrumb “Prayers the Devil Answers” (Atria, 2016)
The joy of reading Sharyn McCrumb is her exploration of place. For a couple of decades now, she’s explored the people and culture of the upper South, the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. Folk tales & traditions are woven into stories of women and their struggles. It’s hardy, beautiful stuff.
Prayers the Devil Answers is no different. Set in the 1930s in a tiny railroad town, it tells the story of Ellie Robbins, a woman from the mountains who moved into town only to be widowed when her husband unexpectedly passes.
This is a wonderful character piece, as we learn about Ellie and her struggles. As always, McCrumb’s sense of language and place are second to none. It becomes somewhat of a difficult read as Ellie works through her grief and loss.
I suppose my only complaint would be the pacing. This is not a fast read. Ellie spends quite a bit of time at the side of her husband’s sickbed, & it feels like we are spending every minute there. While I understand the emotional reasons for this, I just desperately wanted something to actually happen.