In High Cotton
Southern women may look as delicate as flowers, but there's iron in their veins.
While the rest of the world has been roaring through the 1920s, times are hardscrabble in rural Georgia, where folks are still climbing out from the War of Northern Aggression. The small farm hamlet of Rivers End doesn’t have much to recommend it. A grocery, the dry goods, a bar-slash-gas station, movie theater, train depot and two churches— a Catholic and Methodist. The Baptists use the Methodist church and a traveling minister. But to those who live there, dilapidated as it may be, it’s home.
Widow Maggie Parker is barely surviving while raising her young son alone. Then as banks begin to fail, her father-in-law threatens to take her son and sell off her livelihood - the grocery store her husband left her. Can five Southern women band together, using their wisdom and wiles to outsmart him and survive the Great Depression?
Meet the ladies of Rivers End:
At fifty-two, Sadie Moreland is half Cherokee and knows the horrors of discrimination. When Maggie saved her life during the Spanish flu epidemic, she vowed to protect and mentor her.
Maggie's pampered sister, Duchess Alden, found herself in a precarious position when her Yankee husband lost everything in the stock market crash. Nowhere else to turn, she comes home to Rivers End and Maggie.
Maggie's sweet mother-in-law, Faylene Parker, married for duty, knowing her husband never loved her. A victim of the 1916 polio pandemic, she's confined to a wheelchair. Her only spark of sunshine is Maggie and her grandson.
Then there's Pinkie Yates, who got herself in the family way, trying to escape her drunken, abusive father. When Maggie's nine-year-old son finds Pinkie beaten and battered in a field near the railroad tracks, he plays Good Samaritan and brings her home.
On Goose Island
If you listen carefully on a moonless night, the trees on Goose Island whisper.
For the past four years, ADORABLE CARTWRIGHT (Dorie) has been living in Hollywood and working as an actress in small parts. She’s about to get her big break, when she gets a call from home. Her daddy has died and she must come back to Goose Island—a low country, backwater village holds no interest for a modern girl like Dorie. But there’s no one else to care for her mute aunt, who lives in a world of silent watching, and her delusional mother, who lives in a fantasy world of wealth and won’t admit they’re destitute. With no paying jobs available on the small island, Dorie has to find a way to feed herself, her mama and aunt. Then her childhood best friend encourages her to rebuild her daddy’s shrimping business. There’s just one problem—Dorie can’t swim and is terrified of the water. When old Gladys Horton, daughter of a legendary shrimper, agrees to help, Dorie must find a way to overcome her paralyzing fear. But women don’t become shrimpers on Goose Island, and they run into opposition that seems to be insurmountable. Their boats are sabotaged, and their nets are destroyed. When their boat cottage burns, the secret of her aunt’s muteness is uncovered and the horrific origin of Dorie’s fears. But it’s in the midst of the struggles, that Dorie discovers the strength of her faith and the value of friendship.
By the Sweet Gum
Genesee Andersen is one of the few girls who didn’t leave town for the lure of the big city. She loves the small mill town of Sweetgum, Georgia. Most of all, she loves baseball and one player in particular, Tommy Mack. When the Great Depression sends her friends back to Sweetgum in droves, the mill can’t hire them all. For Tommy, the lure of major league baseball is stronger than the pull of Sweetgum. He accepts a contract from the Beaumont Exporters, a farm team for the Detroit Tigers. His rationalization? He’s leaving his mill job open for someone else. He asks Genesee to marry and join him in Texas. Before they can finalize their plans, a fire breaks out and half the town burns. The boarding house Genesee and her parents run doesn’t fare unscathed. The kitchen is destroyed along with two other rooms. The biggest loss is her parents, who die in the fire. Setting her own grief aside, Genesee must help provide housing for the displaced families. She can’t leave Sweetgum and tells Tommy she won’t hold him to the proposal. Her closest friends, each with their own problems to overcome, rally around to help her rebuild, since all the men are working in the mill. They build a new kitchen, repair the other rooms, and reopen the boarding house. Then Tommy calls and asks Genesee to meet him by the Sweet gum the next afternoon. He’s coming home. An injury has sidelined him for an indeterminable time. His love for Genesee is still strong, and when the meet by the Sweet gum tree, he proposes, saying when they marry, he will help her run the boarding house and rebuild the town. Can Tommy put baseball behind him, or will Genesee have to choose between Tommy and her beloved Sweetgum?