The Ballad of Tom Dooley

Sharyn McCrumb. St. Martin's/Dunne, $24.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-312-55817-8
In her latest "Ballad Novel," McCrumb (The Devil Amongst the Lawyers) delves into the history of the song made popular by the Kingston Trio. It's 1866 and no one in the mountains of North Carolina has been left unscarred by the Civil War. This includes the scores of walking wounded Rebel soldiers back from the war, but also the women they left behind, like Pauline Foster, whose encounters with soldiers and drifters have left her with a death sentence in the form of syphilis, a disease that figures prominently among the story's players. Bitter and envious of her beautiful cousin Ann Melton, Pauline nevertheless takes a job as Ann's housemaid while undergoing treatment nearby. Pauline sees patterns and understands connections that no one else sees, and she manufactures drama for her own ends—with tragic results. She is soon intimately involved in the romantic and sexual entanglements of Ann; Ann's husband, James, who Ann married for stability; Ann's lover Tom Dula, her passion from the time they were children; and the women's other cousin, Laura Foster, whose trysts with Tom lead to her murder. Narrated by Pauline and by Zebulon Vance, the former Confederate governor who defended Tom Dula in court, McCrumb's tale is impeccably researched. At times the deliberate accounting of facts and biography does more to show off that research than it does to advance the story, but McCrumb's novel casts light on the often bleak context surrounding characters who have become legend. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
Show other formats
Compact Disc - 978-1-4418-6776-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-4418-6779-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-4418-6777-3
MP3 CD - 978-1-4418-6778-0
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4558-1389-6
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4299-9048-6
Hardcover - 443 pages - 978-1-4104-4414-1
Paperback - 311 pages - 978-1-250-00745-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-4558-9114-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-4558-9115-3
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.