This fourth novel weaving together family history and rich fiction about 19th century Appalachian life, Price offers us mortal love and loss, mythic renewal, set against traditional culture beset by irrevocable change. Price weaves together families from earlier books in this saga of endings and beginnings, and provides the sage, ageless viewpoint of Yan-e'gwa D the bear D crafting ultimately human stories.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Where the Water-Dogs Laughed: Or the Sacred Dream of the Great Bear based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
The characters make this book. Hamby McFee is a racially mixed man whose experience has left him embittered toward all mankind. That doesn't keep him from giving the reader chuckles from his wry comments - many internal. The nonhuman characters, Cattywampus Dog, The Great Bear of the title and the Appalachian Mountains themselves, come startlingly alive for the reader in this fourth in Price's family saga. Get it whether you've read the others or not.
This book is about grace. Where the Water-dogs Laughed is peopled with characters so real I experienced their triumphs, failures, and thoughts as my own. Set in the late 1800¿s in the mountains of Western North Carolina, the characters are engaged in struggles that echo many of today¿s troubles including the devastation of the environment, the need to make money from the land, domestic emotional abuse, and hard economic times. The Great Bear and Cattywampus Dog are as real as the people. The Cherokee belief about the covenant between bears and man is told through the Great Bear. I found this a surprising approach and became intrigued with the Bear¿s voice and experience of his world. My favorite character is Hamby McFee, an ex-slave, who takes over the book from beginning to end. He struggles with feeling separated from others and yet bound to them through their shared place in the Hiwassee valley. His desire to maintain his integrity by protecting himself from the judgment of others with a hard, bitter attitude results in a loneliness I found familiar. Hamby is one of the most original characters I¿ve encountered and I found myself wanting to defend him whenever he was misunderstood by the other characters. Price incorporates the romance of his own grandparents, Lily Carter and Will Price, into the story. Their courtship is formal and old-fashioned and ultimately inspiring as they overcome the obstacles laid out for them by Will¿s adopted father. Another love relationship takes place between Absalom Middleton and Cassandra Weatherby; Price does an incredible job of evoking an erotic, passionate relationship without ever depicting a sexual encounter. Adding balance, humor, and grace is Irish Bill Moore who is as rooted to the land as the Great Bear. Like an elf who lives in the forest he emerges from the mountain mists beating his Civil War drum, gaily teasing the wife he adores, mourning his two sons who are lost to a typhoid epidemic, longing for his youth, and wisely seeing the ability of man and Mother Earth to endure. This book is gritty, true, and full of the struggles of daily existence and it raises us up to taste something larger than ourselves.