Cold Sassy Tree
by Olive Ann Burns
Narrator: Tom Parker
Genres: Adult Fiction, Audiobook, Classic, Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook (12 hrs and 54 mins)
The one thing you can depend on in Cold Sassy, Georgia, is that word gets around - fast.
On July 5, 1906, scandal breaks in the small town of Cold Sassy, Georgia, when the proprietor of the general store, E. Rucker Blakeslee, elopes with Miss Love Simpson. He is barely three weeks a widower, and she is only half his age and a Yankee to boot. As their marriage inspires a whirlwind of local gossip, fourteen-year-old Will Tweedy suddenly finds himself eyewitness to a family scandal, and that’s where his adventures begin.
Cold Sassy Tree is the undeniably entertaining and extraordinarily moving account of small-town Southern life in a bygone era. Brimming with characters who are wise and loony, unimpeachably pious and deliciously irreverent, Olive Ann Burns’s classic bestseller is a timeless, funny, and resplendent treasure.
Cold Sassy Tree was a great book for book club. It brought up a lot of things to discuss about religion, women, and gossip set in early 1900s South. It’s always interesting to me to read historical fiction like this and see how women were treated. Women were often blamed for the things that men did. Like Rucker marrying Love even though his wife only died a few weeks ago. You would think that the gossip would be about the insensitive man but it wasn’t. It was all about Love and what an awful person she was. Society also largely viewed woman as free or cheap labor. You can clearly see how quickly their society would fall apart without women (Rucker can’t even feed himself or wash his clothes) and yet they are treated as second class citizens. That didn’t mean women didn’t have any power. Love would march for women’s right to vote and she was very clever about getting Rucker to do things she wanted by making it seem like it was his idea.
My favorite part of this novel was the discussions about religion that Rucker has with his grandson, Will. They discuss prayer and what you should really be praying for. Rucker believes that God doesn’t interfere with whether people live or die. God gave us brains and he expects us to use them. And sometimes bad things happen to good people and what we should really pray for is the strength to get through hard things. I really liked this and the other discussions that Will and Rucker had.
Another thing that was fun to read about was the modern changes coming to this small, southern town. Cars appear for the first time. Some people have phones and some don’t. Some people have plumbing and some don’t. It was like redneck Downton Abbey.
Cold Sassy Tree shed a fascinating look on gossip. Gossip is focused on the outward appearance of things and disregards the more important internal thoughts and feelings of people. Will points out that there is a difference between “being in mourning” like wearing black etc. and actually mourning. You can see the tragic effects throughout the story when people focus on the outward things people are doing and forget to see them as people.
Narrator Rating: ★★★★★
Even though this is my very first audiobook, I thought the narrator did an excellent job with reading this novel. He had a southern accent that really added to the atmosphere of the book. Also, it was easier to understand the accent when I heard it. The southern accent in the book was spelled phonetically and I found it hard to read. But it was delightful to listen too. I would recommend the audiobook over the book for this novel. I got me here a southern accent before I wus done with this here aud-ee-o-book. Yes um.
Overall, I really liked this look at southern life and the ideas it had about religion.
Content Rating: Medium, for a rape scene. It’s not very graphic but it was disturbing. There may have been some language but I can’t remember.