I just finished reading Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Anne Burns, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story takes place in the town of Cold Sassy, Georgia, its name derived from the cool shade under the sassafras trees nearby. Set in the early 1900s, after the War Between the States, the narrator (Will Tweedy) is the 14-year-old grandson of the owner of the town's general store. The conflict starts when his grandfather marries a much younger woman only weeks after the grandmother's death. This scandal causes an uproar in the close-knit, Bible-quoting community.
I felt that the story presented an intimate picture of life in that place, at that particular time in history. Some homes still had outhouses and used kerosene lamps, while others had electricity, indoor plumbing, and telephones. The automobile was a novelty. Yankees and "lintheads" (mill workers) were distrusted, and family was all-important. The humor, southern accents, and mispronunciations added charm and realism to the tale, though the dialect sometimes slowed down my reading. And although I found myself skimming the longer preachy sections, the plot kept me entertained and the characters charmed me.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Southern tales.