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House of Purple Cedar

Shelf Awareness

Choctaw storyteller Tim Tingle's House of Purple Cedar focuses on a chapter of rarely explored Eastern Oklahoma history, when the rural community of Skullyville was the capital of the Choctaw nation.
In the winter of 1896, 11-year-old Rose Goode survives the burning of the New Hope Academy, a boarding school for Choctaw girls. Twenty of her fellow students don't have the same good fortune. The Choctaw community is devastated by the loss, but the trouble is far from over. When the drunken white marshal Robert Hardwicke assaults Rose's grandfather Amafo at the train station in nearby Spiro, for all the town to see, the division between the Nahullos--white settlers--and Choctaw becomes ripe for explosion.
However, the gentle but wily Amafo decides to take the path of friendship and forgiveness, defusing a potential bloodbath. Among the allies he makes along the way are the town's goodhearted stationmaster John Burleson, hardnosed general-store owner Hiram Blackstone and Maggie Johnston, a woman with a wooden leg and an iron spirit. The adopted Christian faith of the Choctaws comes to coexist with their mystical connection to the land--as evidenced by ghostlights, strange dreams of the past and a panther who may or may not be connected to Pokoni, Rose's grandmother and Amafo's wife.
Tingle (How I Became a Ghost) also delves into secondary characters' exploits, some of which have a tall tale quality to them, such as Maggie Johnston's cunning rescue of the world's most pathetic outlaw from the clutches of the marshal. These digressions add humor and a broader scope to the novel, presenting colorful personalities readers will want to revisit again and again. Tingle's voice is that of a storyteller, confident and largely unadorned, relying on the power of his plot and characters to draw in his audience.
An overarching message of forgiveness and love, underscored by themes of patience and resilience, takes House of Purple Cedar from historical to timeless. Readers won't need to be Oklahomans or history buffs to appreciate the book's intricate web of small town happenings and mystical realism. To enjoy this world, you need only an open heart and a love of great stories.
- Jaclyn Fulwood, December 3, 2013  Visit Website

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