Ruby by Cynthia Bond
Published by: Two Roads - 7th May 2015
THE NEWEST OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB 2.0 SELECTION A NEW YORK TIMES TOP TEN BESTSELLER The epic, unforgettable story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her, this beautiful and devastating debut heralds the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.
Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby Bell, "the kind of pretty it hurt to look at," has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city-the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village-all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town's dark past.
Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.
Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom's Juke, to Celia Jennings's kitchen, where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby.
Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man's dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love
'Ruby' is the debut offering of Cynthia Bond is set in an all-black hamlet called Liberty Township, in East Texas. It is the first of a planned trilogy. I'm not sure at this juncture whether I'll read any more or not. I didn't feel connected enough to the characters, well maybe with the exception of Ephram Jennings an innocent sweet, bumbling character of a man who is besotted with the stunningly beautiful Ruby Bell. However I couldn't bare to read anymore about Ruby's 'haints', or the spirits that burrowed inside her until she gave birth (or death, whatever it was) to them. It all just seemed so fantastically over the top, and took an age to move along with the story line.
I'm still wondering why I didn't enjoy it more. I didn't hate it I just felt indifferent. I found the dialect difficult to understand and felt that perhaps the author was trying too hard to impress and write a prize winning novel that she lost her true direction and concentrated too much on being overly descriptive. I just know that I didn't connect with any of the characters nor care enough to want to continue reading about them.
Maybe it's just 'wrong timing' so maybe I'll try again sometime, so please do not let me dissuade you from reading 'Ruby' as I'm certainly in the minority with my views and it has received a staggering amount of rave reviews. Even 'Oprah' is championing this one. It just wasn't for me. Book groups would definitely have some interesting discussions and debates over this one.
Disclosure: I received a complementary digital copy from 'Blogging For Books' for an honest, unbiased review. I initially decided to stop reading at 40% but continued after a day's break. Unfortunately I didn't feel any better about it and DNF'd at 60%.