Beyond Molasses Creek: A Review

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Friday Fiction Fix

Beyond Molasses Creek takes place in the South Carolina Lowcountry. It’s the story of Ally, 60 years old and still trying to find herself; Sunila, a young Dalit woman in Nepal who’s just been handed the secret that will unlock her destiny; and Vesey, Ally’s neighbour, the love of her life, its one constant, and forbidden fruit all wrapped into one.

I love good writing. And this was good writing. I really sank into the story and enjoyed it from the first page. Seitz’ use of language is beautiful. Not elaborate or flowery, just beautiful and poignant: “Then something like courage rolled onto his broad shoulders.”

The story begins when Ally returns to the Lowcountry to bury her father. It is the first time she has been in one place that long for years and years, and she’s only doing so now out of obligation to her father, and perhaps out of a curiosity about whether love can still bloom between her and Vesey.

Instead, she discovers truth–about herself, about Vesey, and about a woman living thousands of miles away she doesn’t even know is alive.

The story was written from the first-person present tense point of view for two of the characters. I have to confess that at first I found this jarring. I’ve read a couple of stories in which the use of present tense eventually signaled the untimely demise of the point of view character. But once I settled in and satisfied myself that nothing mortally awful was going to happen to Ally or Sunila, that became less distracting. By the final chapter, if I hadn’t checked for the purposes of writing this review, I couldn’t have said whether the writing was still in present tense or not.

Ally’s life is layered with complexity. There is no moment when she abandons her old ways and embraces an obvious Christian faith. Rather, she is on a spiritual journey. She has tried running away from her pain or filling her life with pleasure to dull it. She has pursued spiritual fulfillment–her lawn is littered with the statues of gods and goddesses to prove it. But as the story progresses, we see how as much as she has run from a life like Vesey’s–rooted in one place with one woman and a hope in God–the kind of life that satisfies in the end. It is Vesey, not Ally, who is self-aware, content and confident.

I am happy to have discovered Nicole Seitz’ writing for myself. I can’t wait to read one of her other books.

Note: I received Beyond Molasses Creek as a free ebook in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation has been given me.

- Carey Clark

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