Category Archives: 1989

1989

Helen Taylor. Cobalt Blue. Virginia Beach, VA: Grunwald and Radcliff Publishers, 1989.

Helen Taylor used her own experiences and stories that she heard in her childhood as the basis for this novel of life in Granville County.  The Tazewell family had been on the land in Granville County since the early nineteenth century.  When the novel opens it is 1895 and Richard Tazewell is living at Longwood with his widowed mother, his wife Alice, and their seven children.  Also on the plantation are two orphans who are treated almost as kin,  and a changing cast of tenants.  The novel will follow these characters over twenty years during which the characters will experience the joys and sorrows of farm life and confront the technological and economic challenges that came to rural North Carolina one hundred years ago. This look at farm life is not sugar-coated, but neither is it critical of the social conventions of the time.  The endpapers of the book contain a charming, hand-drawn map of Longwood and the surrounding lands.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 1980-1989, 1989, Granville, Taylor, Helen

Michael Malone. Time’s Witness. Boston: Little, Brown, 1989.

Time’s Witness is narrated by Cuddy Mangum, formerly a homocide detective and now the Chief of Police for the Piedmont town of Hillston. By his own admission Cuddy doesn’t have the best thing one can have in Hillston (class), or even the second best thing (looks). What he does have are brains and he makes use of them in this, the second of the Justin and Cuddy mysteries. With a young African-American man’s execution on the horizon, racial tensions rise in the town and things only get worse when the convict’s brother is murdered. Then a candidate for governor becomes involved and starts receiving death threats. Complicating matters is the fact that the politician’s wife is Cuddy’s first–and perhaps only real–love.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 1980-1989, 1989, Malone, Michael, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont

Randall Kenan. A Visitation of Spirits. New York : Vintage Contemporaries, 2000.

Kenan’s acclaimed first novel is the story of an African American family in the fictional town of Tims Creek in rural eastern North Carolina. Horace Cross, the sixteen-year-old protagonist of the book, is haunted by what may be actual demons, while at the same time trying to come to terms with his homosexuality. He seeks advice and comfort from his older cousin James, a schoolteacher and preacher, who fears that other family members will have a hard time understanding. This richly written novel is told in several shifting voices and styles.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Library Catalog.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 1980-1989, 1989, Coastal Plain, Kenan, Randall, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Allan Gurganus. Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. New York: Knopf, 1989.

Ninety-nine year old Lucy Marsden spins an epic tale that covers the Civil War, slavery, marriage, and death. With an energetic and humorous style, she tells the story of her remarkable life. Married at fifteen to a Confederate veteran thirty-five years her senior, Lucy has survived long enough to be the oldest living Confederate widow. The novel alternates between past and present, telling the story of Captain Marsden’s experiences in the war, Lucy’s childhood, her close friendship with a former slave, and her life at present, where she is living in a nursing home in fictional Falls, N.C., a town in the eastern part of the state probably based on the author’s hometown of Rocky Mount.  The book was made into a movie/miniseries in 1994.

Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All won the 1990 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Library Catalog.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 1980-1989, 1989, Gurganus, Allan, Historical, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Kaye Gibbons. A Virtuous Woman. Chapel Hill: Algonquin, 1989.

Ruby Pitt Woodrow and Blinking Jack Stokes tell, in alternating chapters, the stories of their lives. Ruby’s chapters are told from her perspective as she is dying of cancer at age 45, while Jack’s reminiscences are set during the period just after Ruby’s death. These stories are set largely on tobacco farms in eastern North Carolina and describe a fondly remembered marriage, which stands in contrast to the characters’ otherwise difficult lives.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Library Catalog.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 1980-1989, 1989, Coastal Plain, Gibbons, Kaye