I specialize in reviewing Print-On-Demand (POD) published books for my website and Midwest Book Review. Please query for a review by email to hgunther234@hotmail.com.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

TOM'S WIFE by Alana Cash

Hacienda Press
Los Angeles, CA
Genre: Fiction novel
ISBN: 978-1449996321, $12.95, 302 pp.

Quoting from the back cover:
““She already hated being married to Tom after less than a year of it. Hated the three-room pine house with its bare floors and windows. She’d gone home once to her mama’s house trying to get out of it, but her mama told her, ‘A good woman don’t go off on her husband’...” (pg.3)

“Annie is nineteen, illiterate, and married to Tom Huckaby. It is the Great Depression and Tom works in a coal mine, leaving Annie to tend the farm and their newborn son. When he’s home, Tom is crude and callous. For Annie it’s a lonesome life filled by walks to the general store, attending church, and visits from her friend Twila who helps her defy Tom and earn some money of her own by selling eggs.

“One afternoon, a traveling peddler named Jake Stern wanders up to Annie’s porch in a clean white shirt selling notions and tenderness. After that, everything on the farm belongs to Tom, except Annie’s heart.

Alana Cash is an award-winning filmmaker and short story author. She taught writing in Austin, Texas and was one of 60 U.S. teachers profiled in the PBS series ‘A Writer’s Exchange.’ As a child, she spent summers on a farm in Arkansas. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

Tom’s Wife has been produced as an award-winning feature film.”

It’s wonderful that Alana Cash has such strong credentials and that her novel, Tom’s Wife, has been made into a film, and I wish her continued success. However, this 300-page-plus, simple story did not appeal to me. That does not mean it won’t appeal to you. The second paragraph from the back cover pretty much sums of Annie’s life. Add some abject poverty, single-minded motherly devotion, wifely hate, and guilt-ridden adultery. I won’t disclose the ending, but I doubt you’ll be surprised.

In my opinion the plot is simplistic and the character development shallow, with the exception of Annie, of course, as she is the protagonist. Alana Cash’s writing style is what I call typical or average–she gets the job done–but there’s nothing there to savor, and this novel could use one more editing for minor errors. I imagine Tom's Wife could be considered a poignant story about a dirt-poor family during the Great Depression; possibly that’s its appeal. Check it out for yourself...she’s the award winner.

Kaye Trout - May 18, 2011