Caroline Miller – Lamb in His Bosom

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This blog post will be brief as I am posting it during a very unusual time in my journey through the pulitzer project. I will elaborate on this u unusual circumstance later perhaps, but this situation has found me waiting for a long portion of time so I chose to read. Because I chose to read, I finished a book. Because I finished a book, I have to write the blog post in order to keep reading as the situation may continue and I need to keep myself entertained. Thank God for reading and this project.

I feel it will be very easy to summarize Caroline Miller’s Pulitzer Prize winner Lamb in His Bosom – sad and dreadful. I read brief portion of the Afterward which claimed that Miller’s work paved the way for Southern writers of her era. What befuddled me about that idea is the type of life she portrays of the south to say reintroduce the north to is bleak and riddled with poverty. That is a very minor point, but suffice it to say that I believe Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind as a response to the extreme popularity of this book, so that Mitchell could show the world a different side of Southern life.

Nevertheless, this book is bleak and sad. It was not sad in the way of say Age of Innocence where the whole plot pointed toward one outcome and turned to a slightly more sad ending which rang more true than the happier ending. The entire book was sad. Around every turn a snake lay in the grass both literally and figuratively. There is a tragic unexpected death, panther attack, Indians lurking in the woods, house fire, difficult birth. Given all of these harms one would think maybe this is a pioneer novel, it is not. It is just the simple sad tale of a poor rural family over three generations. It is short, sad tale of heartbreak and woe.

The most disappointing part of this book is that it kept me there for the first 75%, but it just kept getting bleaker and sadder until it finally ended with a twist of the knife which by this point I didn’t care. I gave being emotionally invested as I felt that at some point Miller was just building sand castles to shove them down.

Beyond this, there are some absolutely beautifully written passages and moments in this book. When Cean was bitten by a snake when she was pregnant was an amazing scene. When Cean died in child birth with her last child with Lonzo, and Lonzo breathed her back to life was one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever read. When Cean kills the panther to protect her children while Lonzo was at the Coast. Lias was a great villian, but his ending was so frustrating. It felt tagged on to wrap things up ugly on purpose. I loved parts of this book, but dislike the whole work as it is difficult on purpose and bleak when it doesn’t have to be.

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