“Straight’s portrayal of a black woman’s life is nearly miraculous in its astonishing richness of detail, its emotional honesty and its breadth of human thought and feeling.” —USA Today
In 1959, thirteen-year-old Marietta Cook is as tall as she is reserved, a quiet outsider in an already marginalized community of slave descendants rooted in South Carolina’s low country. While she and her ailing mother eke out a modest existence selling hand-woven baskets by the side of the road, Marietta often wonders what lies beyond their horizon.
When her mother passes, young Marietta makes her way to Charleston in search of her uncle. What she finds is a nation in turmoil, with the rights of all citizens at stake. Drawn into the wider world of a national movement, Marietta experiences new pleasures, heartbreak, and the uncertainties, as well as joys, of motherhood. As she watches her twins mature into gifted and successful athletes, Marietta comes to appreciate her own gifts in a long life well lived.
The Goode-Brown family, led by matriarch and pillar of the community Minnie Mae, is plagued by old secrets and embarrassment over mental illness and illegitimacy. Meanwhile, single mother Francine Clark is haunted by her dead, lightning-struck husband and forced to fight against both the moral judgment of the community and her own rebellious daughter, Mona. The residents of Opulence struggle with vexing relationships to the land, to one another, and to their own sexuality. As the members of the youngest generation watch their mothers and grandmothers pass away, they live with the fear of going mad themselves and must fight to survive.
Crystal Wilkinson offers up Opulence and its people in lush, poetic detail. It is a world of magic, conjuring, signs, and spells, but also of harsh realities that only love -- and love that's handed down -- can conquer. At once tragic and hopeful, this captivating novel is a story about another time, rendered for our own.