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Green Forest, Red Earth, Blue Sea

Author(s): Jim Gulledge

Location(s): North Carolina

Genre(s): Fiction

Era(s): Reconstruction to 1970's

Green Forest, Red Earth, Blue Sea begins in the village of Saluda, North Carolina during Reconstruction. The inciting event in the first portion of the novel, “A Poor Man’s Supper”, is the arrival of a boy from the High Country named Josiah Buckland and an entrepreneurial adult from the Piedmont named Jagger Hill. Over the course of the tale, both of the strangers’ lives become entangled with the life of a young woman in Saluda named Vancie Keller. Although Josiah’s attraction to Vancie is immediate and powerful, he is quickly outmaneuvered by the wealth, power and immorality of Jagger Hill. Within a short period of time, Jagger has brokered a marriage for Vancie with her mother and sets out to break the spirit of his new, young wife. Vancie’s only defenses in her slow decline are her mother’s housekeeper, Mattie, her memories of the now departed Josiah, and his child which she carries in secret into her abusive marriage. Vancie’s only tangible remnant of Josiah ,other than his child which she secretly carries, is a small gold watch that the boy gave to her. The watch becomes a metaphor for the persistence and potency of memory in the enduring of suffering and loss. The remainder of this portion of this portion of the novel involves Josiah’s discovery of his son and collision with Jagger Hill.

Part two of the novel takes place in a small farming community in central North Carolina during WWI and the Depression. This portion of the story involves the Elliott family and is called “Peachland”. The matriarch of the family is a Choctaw woman named Jule who was kidnapped as a girl by her future husband. Her son, Paul, falls in love with a young woman named Pearline but is soon drafted and sent to France as the United States enters WWI. Paul survives the war but returns home damaged and accompanied by a now mute friend named Rory. Once home, battles continue for Paul Elliott after marrying Pauline when he realizes the increasing threat that a corrupt local sheriff poses to family including his new son, John Rudolph. In this portion of Green Forest, Red Earth, Blue Sea evil is not just a stranger arriving in town but the corporate evil of war and the corruption of law. At the end of “Peachland” evil is confronted, but with more moral ambiguity. The watch re-emerges though little is remembered of its first appearance.

The final portion of Green Forest, Red Earth, Blue Sea moves to the coastal village of Beaufort

In the 1970’s. Modernity has arrived and rapid change bears down upon the McClure family in the conclusion of the novel. The McClure boys are damaged by death, loss and encroaching poverty, but fight for survival until the arrival of a hidden treasure that corrupts their best efforts. In this portion of the novel called “Wild Horses”, evil manifests itself again, but this time from within rather than without. Memory once again asserts itself as the McClures battle their inner demons.

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