Monday, February 19, 2007

Nicloe Seitz's The Spirit of Sweetgrass ~ Reviewed

The Spirit of Sweetgrass
By Nicloe Seitz
Published by Integrity/Thomas Nelson
ISBN-10: 1591455065

Essie Mae Laveau Jenkins is a 78-year-old sweetgrass basket weaver who sits on the side of Hwy 17 in the company of her dead husband, Daddy Jim. Inspired by her Auntie Leona, Essie Mae finally discovers her calling in life and weaves powerful "love baskets," praying fervently over them to affect the lives of those who visit her roadside stand. When she's faced with losing her home and her stand and being put in a nursing home, Daddy Jim talks her into coming on up to Heaven to meet sweet Jesus – something she's always wanted to do. Once there, she still has work to do. Now Essie Mae, who once felt powerless and invisible, must find the strength within her to keep her South Carolina family from falling apart.

The Spirit of Sweetgrass is a beautiful tribute to southern traditions and lifestyle as well as a disappearing art. The history and Gullah details Seitz incorporates in the story make it a must read for anyone fascinated with Lowcountry culture.

Nicole Seitz writes beautifully, weaving and crafting this saga not unlike the baskets so diligently and painstakingly woven by her protagonist's loving fingers.

Those who expect a specific genre basket hook on which to hang The Spirit of Sweetgrass will find a touch of sweet romance with women's fiction depth, chock full of history and fantasy. This story stretches beyond one genre and seeps into other categories. If forced to choose, I'd call it literary because of Nicole's style. I got caught up is Essie Mae's life from the beginning, and though there were a couple of chapters that dragged a bit for me, the end satisfied.

Jesus is mentioned throughout, but those who only read clear "how to be saved" Christian fiction aren't likely to feel comfortable reading The Spirit of Sweetgrass.
Nicole has managed to bust open the God box, maybe replacing it with a woven basket so He bursts out all over. Heaven sequences are thoughtful, speculative and may frustrate theologians. Serious jot-and-tittle Christian fiction readers may want to avoid reading this book, especially if they tend to read with a microscope. Voodoo and ghosts are tossed into the mix now and again, too.

If you love to ask God questions and like to ponder heaven, or if you curl up with lazy, literary fiction, quirky characters, cultural details and stories that wrap around your thoughts and your heart, I think you'll enjoy The Spirit of Sweetgrass.

Reviewed byKelly Klepfer


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful review. I am glad that this book is out of the box!

Nicole Seitz said...

Thank you Kelly, Ane and Novel Journey! What a terrific review. It's amazing when when a reader truly "gets" your work. God bless you!