More about Poke Sallet Queen and the Family Medicine Wheel
When Robin Ballard takes a writing course in college, she goes searching for answers about her homeless father and wanders into the secret lives of her relatives as they gradually reveal their personal histories. Set in Nashville and the surrounding rural towns, Poke Sallet Queen and the Family Medicine Wheel offers a look into the superstitions and changes of a middle Tennessee family from the 1920s to the 21st century. Based on novel events, homework assignments, old magic recipes, drunken revelries, senile remembrances, midnight songs, some tall tales, some folk tales, and the lost journals, Robin Ballard tells a "true" Tennessee family history.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2015901106
Trade Paperback, 234 pages
Publication Date: March 28, 2015
Suggested retail price: $15.99
Author Photo by Terry Morris
"Reading Shana Thornton’s highly original novel will make you want to get your own family stories to the page. You’ll meet larger-than-life characters like Hoot and Zona, Aunt Cora and Jane, Miss Emy, and Nenny, the matriarch, who rolls her own cigarettes and knows all the secrets of the family medicine wheel. You may even find yourself signing up for a writing class like the one that sets the narrator, young Robin Ballard, to interviewing her aunts and grandmother, tracking down her homeless father, and digging out the family secrets, lost journals, and recipes that make POKE SALLET QUEEN & THE FAMILY MEDICINE WHEEL a most surprising and satisfying fictional family history. (At least, I think it’s fiction!)" -MARY HELEN STEFANIAK author of The Turk and My Mother and The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia
New Review of Poke Sallet Queen & the Family Medicine Wheel: "When you love to read there is nothing finer than falling into a novel wherein not only the prose absolutely sings, but the characters are so real, they seem to step off the page. This is what you will find in Shana Thornton’s Poke Sallet Queen and the Family Medicine Wheel (Thorncraft Publishing, 2015).
The language and cadence of the novel are gorgeous—lush and full and, in places, there are phrasings of pure beauty. If there were only that, it might be enough, but her characters are known by her—they breathe. It takes only a few pages of reading the novel for its myriad of distinctive voices to emerge. The sense of place is palpable. The novel’s corner of Tennessee comes alive with heat and sun, sudden rain and humid summer…and poke sallet greens. (Yes, they are a real Southern delicacy, as this Northern girl learned, and Thornton even provides a few Ballard-family recipes for cooking them.) Thornton knows Granville, Tennessee in the way Wendell Berry knows Port William, Kentucky." Read more at https://readingatthekitchentable.wordpress.com/
Photo by Candice Read Shoulders. @canditcha on Instagram
"Vibrant in detail! Meet and fall in love with the characters of POKE SALLET QUEEN & THE FAMILY MEDICINE WHEEL and along the way, learn the secrets of great story-telling." -BUD WILLIS, author of Marble Mountain: A Vietnam Memoir
"When I’m given a book to review, I like to open it up at random and see if what’s on the happenstance page resonates at all. This time I found the heroine Robin Ballard singing Mother Maybelle Carter’s 'Wildwood Flower' at a beauty contest she does not expect to win. She is someone I recognize, who trips over a cord as she’s leaving the stage, whose family’s knowledge 'comes from the dirt' not from 'parchment scrolls and crests that open doors.' This character is humble and honest, and the book refreshingly natural and just different enough. I like it…." -RHETA GRIMSLEY JOHNSON, author of Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming
"Shana Thornton has a fresh, unique voice and talent. POKE SALLET QUEEN & THE FAMILY MEDICINE WHEEL is a lyrical tale of love in the lush Tennessee hills, of generations gone by, and of people appreciated for simple things as much as the passing on of their history. There is mystery, sorrow, laughter and knowledge in these unforgettable characters. Shana writes a magical story that stays with you long after the final page. As with one of the characters, 'She knows real magic.'" -VIRGINIA BROWN, author of Dark River Road and the Dixie Diva mystery series
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Last updated October 2017. Updated weekly.