Her luminous first novel, Moon Women, won the hearts of both readers and critics, who called it “richly textured...a pleasure to be savored by a writer to watch.” (Kirkus Reviews) Now Pamela Duncan returns to the rich landscape of the human heart with a lush, resonant novel about mothers and daughters, about family and friendship, about a woman at a turning point in her life and the extraordinary world she discovers in a place called home…
It’s Christmastime in Russell, North Carolina. For Laurel Granger, the holiday can’t pass quickly enough. With her fifteen-year marriage ending, the visit to her hometown is bound to be even more painful than usual. And the worst part will be looking at the lives of her mother, Pansy, and Pansy’s gossipy group of friends, for whom life revolves around the plant, the aging textile mill where for decades they have found companionship, a modest livelihood, and a purpose.
But with her own marriage disintegrating—the full scope of the disaster hasn’t become clear to her yet—Laurel has nowhere else to turn except Russell, and to the women of the plant. And soon what Laurel begins to see is not the stifling town she couldn’t wait to leave, nor women whose lives seem petty and plain, but a place where powerful secrets have been kept...where hearts and lives have been broken...and where a group of extraordinary women may have a thing or two to teach her about life. Most of all, as Laurel starts to live and even love a little again, she is faced with her mother, and her mother before her, and what their complex relationship has meant for Laurel all these years.
Weaving together the voices of several remarkable women across generations, Pamela Duncan tells a story of faith and forgiveness, acts of love and acts of betrayal. With the same artful brushstrokes that made Moon Women a wonder, Duncan paints a masterful portrait of seemingly ordinary lives, and of what it means to grow a life and a future—in the rich soil of the past.
About the Author
Pamela Duncan was born in Asheville in 1961 and raised in Black Mountain, Swannanoa, and Shelby, North Carolina. She holds a B.A. in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.A. in English and creative writing from North Carolina Sate University in Raleigh. She lives in Graham, North Carolina.
"Plant Life is an American classic. Like Our Town or Winesburg, Ohio, it presents a compelling and moving portrait of an entire community. In this case, it is the life of a cotton mill, and three generations of women who work there—whose whole lives have been determined by the mill. Stark, poetic, funny, gritty, and intense, their stories will move you to tears and make you laugh at the same time. Never have the lives of Southern working women been so well documented, their stories so truly told. Plant Life is a mature work of a great compassion and insight.”—Lee Smith, bestselling author of Fair and Tender Ladies and The Last Girls
"Plant Life is sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, but always real. Pamela Duncan doesn't just write a great novel—she pours her heart out onto the page, giving a piece of herself to the reader. Here she is exploring the terroritory she knows best: families and friendships and the friends who feel like family. She tells these people's stories with honor and grace but never a hint of sentimentality. This book is full of the hard-earned wisdom of working people, people who dream and love as hard as they work. Plant Life is a beautiful book from a writer who gets to the soul of the matter."—Silas House, author of Clay's Quilt and A Parchment of Leaves