Lynn Veach Sadler,
Foot Ways
(Bards & Sages, 2007)

Longing pervades Foot Ways the way mist settles in mountain valleys. The characters wished for more in their lives than what their families offered -- education, love -- and some were able to escape. They fled brutal or stultifying environments through books, education, music and travel.

The characters in Foot Ways are both cruel and kind, bizarre and wistful. A woman's father charged admission when friends wanted to visit his wife who was dying of cancer. After her mother died, a 16-year-old was forced to drop out of school to do domestic work at home. She endured physical abuse from a brutal older brother and her father allowed it. A kind doctor and his sister took her under their wing so her life changed for the better, but not all at once. She found joy in playing her banjo with the doctor and his friend. Appalachian music was an escape.

The title "Foot Ways" refers to a foot fetish of certain men that follows into the next generation. Strangely, most of the women were attracted to such men. One woman had the misfortune to fall in love with a gay man. There were disappointments in love and in relationships. The book is filled with believable people and situations, both kind and cruel, blessings and curses, the strange and the commonplace -- in short, the stuff of life.

There is tension between youth and age, old ways and modern life, between men and women, and between classes of people. A young man is blessed by his dying father and then finds himself cursed with a foot fetish of mythical proportions.

I enjoyed colorful expressions such as "he didn't care a three legged dog for my heart" and "rough as a cob."

Foot Ways is a delicious book and it left me wishing for more; it tasted of Southern cooking and Southern folklore. I had an idea that the author could expand on this story across time and place. It could become a family saga.

review by
Barbara Spring

30 June 2007

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