I was not swept away by this book as so many others seem to have been, and therefore was a little disappointed. That’s my problem with highly-praised books and so-called “bestsellers;” I’m obviously not the target audience for most of them.
The time period is the 1950s and 1960s; the story jumps back and forth between the coming-of-age of a poor swamp girl who has had to hide from townsfolk after being abandoned by her family and a later murder mystery for which she is a prime suspect. The story itself was drawn out, in my opinion, to include the romantic tragedies that befell this young girl as she learned to be self-sufficient but yearned for companionship; that method certainly had the effect of slowing down the read, just like a southern drawl.
The book is actually a combination of biology, romance, and mystery. It is filled with a naturalist’s wonderful descriptions of a vast waterway and swamp on the North Carolina coast. Major themes are the appreciation of the natural world and loneliness and trust (or lack thereof). The protagonist makes poor decisions, but those are based on her ignorance in most cases. She receives help from a local black family, who are my heroes in this story. Certainly, the townspeople are mostly unlikeable.
Campbell’s narration was fine but slow; I listened to the second half at 1.25x speed. The main character’s voice was a little grating to my ears.
I seldom read modern fiction, and this was a case of “everyone’s raving about it”—fool me once, etc. Mature themes: attempted rape; racial prejudice.