Cover image for A place called Sweet Shrub
A place called Sweet Shrub
Wood, Jane Roberts, 1929-
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Publication Information:
New York : Delacorte Press, 1990.
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Reviews 3

Booklist Review

From the opening pages of this sentimental, old-fashioned novel set in the early 1900s--a sequel to The Train to Estelline--it appears that nothing more consequential than the shade of a wedding dress will be discussed. Lucinda Richards of Bonham, Texas, tidies up the house and plans to become engaged before her married sister visits with a husband who was once Lucinda's fiance. Lucinda's plans work out when old friend Josh Roberts comes to town, woos Lucinda, and convinces her to move to a place called Sweet Shrub, where Josh will be the new principal. The engaged couple dream about a cozy house and fruitful garden, unaware that the remote Arkansas town is actually a powder keg of racial disharmony: blacks are treated as indentured servants by wealthy farmers and storekeepers charge additional credit fees along with high rents, designed to keep their employees in debt. The racial issues add complexity to the plot of this period novel and are carefully interwoven into the narrative. ~--Denise Perry Donavin

Publisher's Weekly Review

This second entry in Wood's proposed trilogy of young love in Texas at the start of World War I is generally engaging but not totally successful. Lucy Richards (first met in The Train to Estelline ) has returned home from a year of teaching. Trying to save the family hardware store and tend a tubercular aunt, Lucy contemplates the fate of old maids and maintains an inventory of available local suitors. There is no need for her concern, however, as Josh Arnold finds her after a three-year absence and sweeps away all objections. The newlyweds travel to Sweet Shrub, Ark., where Josh has a position as a school principal. Becoming acquainted with the various residents of their boarding house, they discover an incipient vein of bigotry against the black population, which is beginning to seek fairer wages and civil rights. Another concern is the fate of a foundling raised by a black woman, whose identity becomes confused as adolescent growth suggests that he may actually be white. Lucy is at her most appealing when she is still living with her family in Texas, and the reader is privy to her changing views of life and marriage. After she weds, there is more focus on Josh's qualities and more straight narrative. Wood's treatment of racial tensions is uneven, with some episodes striking a chord and others failing to generate much feeling. In general, however, this wholesome novel makes for easy, pleasant reading. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Written in 1993, 1990, and 1987, respectively, these novels are known as the Lucy Richards trilogy in honor of their central character. Spanning the years from 1911 to 1931, the story follows Lucy's life as a young school teacher in west Texas through marriage, childbirth, and the Great Depression. Through all the hardships, her indomitable spirit wins out. Good stories with a strong woman in the lead. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.