The ballad of Tom Dooley by Sharyn McCrumb

  Regina  Review by: Regina

Title:  The ballad of Tom Dooley

Author:  Sharyn McCrumb

Collection:  Adult Fiction

Growing up in mountains of Western MD, I’ve listened to and sung the song, “Hang down Your Head Tom Dooley” by the Kingston Trio many times – never knowing there was truth behind the lyrics. What an eye opener to read McCrumb’s historical and fictional retelling of the tale, but with proven evidence of another main character’s involvement and betrayal.

Handsome, former Confederate soldier Tom Dula (dooley) and the lovely, but married Anne Melton had been attracted to each other since their early teens. Anne, even after marriage to the hardworking farmer, James, continued her dalliance with Tom. When her sociopath cousin, Pauline Foster, appears on the scene looking for work and needing doctor’s care for her “pox”, Anne hires her for room, board and little else, working her from sunup to sundown. Little does she know that Pauline, in her jealousy and contained rage, will set Tom and Anne up for the murder of another Foster cousin, Laura, who only wanted to elope and head to Tennessee with her beloved.

Set in Wilkes County, North Carolina, in the hard years following the War Between the States, fascinating, dry and repetitive in places, and narrated by Pauline and Zebulon Vance, lawyer and former governor assigned as pro-bono counsel to Tom Dula – this novel is an eye-opener.


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