“THE MOONFLOWER VINE is the story of Matthew and Callie Soames and their daughters. Each section of the novel is told from the perspective of a different character, giving a nuanced picture of the complexities of family life. This is a book with timeless appeal and characters.”
-Sally Wizik Wills, Sister Wolf Books, Dorset, MN
“A poignant . . . novel that has captured the heart of America and become one of the best-loved bestsellers of our day .. . . A profoundly satisfying book.”
- New York Herald Tribune
“A distinguished achievement”
- Chicago Tribune
“A deeply felt American family saga…dramatic…constantly alive.”
- Harper’s Magazine
“The flavor of THE MOONFLOWER VINE is much the same as that of To Kill a Mockingbird…It has the same quiet feel of nostalgia, a breeze scented with bluegrass and wild roses…THE MOONFLOWER VINE is a delightful book.”
- Denver Post
On a farm in western Missouri during the first half of the twentieth century, Matthew and Callie Soames create a life for themselves and raise four headstrong daughters. Jessica will break their hearts. Leonie will fall in love with the wrong man. Mary Jo will escape to New York. And wild child Mathy’s fate will be the family’s greatest tragedy.
Over the decades, they will love, deceive, comfort, and forgive each other – and ultimately, they will come to cherish all the more fiercely the bonds of love that hold the family together.
Jane Smiley includes THE MOONFLOWER VINE on her list of 100 great novels in her bestselling book Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel. Alongside such classics as Don Quixote, Moby Dick, and Wuthering Heights, THE MOONFLOWER VINE is the only little-known work Smiley addresses. Of it, she writes:
“Several American novels on our list-The House of the Seven Gables, The Awakening, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Moonflower Vine-gain considerable dramatic tension from secrets that the characters are required to keep to maintain respectability in the towns where they live. The conflict between who a character feels herself or himself to be and what is acceptable to friends and colleagues is as constant a theme in American novels as, say, a character’s relationship to the state is in German novels. In exploring the romantic secrets of each member of a single family, Carleton offers something of a catalog of ideas on the subject of secret desires-The Moonflower Vine could have been a scandalous novel. But by presenting each character’s desire as a moral dilemma for that character, and especially by consistently depicting the bonds of love that eventually hold the family together, she succeeds in arousing both empathy and sympathy in the reader.”
About the Author
JETTA CARLETON was born in 1913 in Holden, Missouri (population about 500), and earned a Master’s degree at the University of Missouri. She worked as a schoolteacher, a radio copywriter in Kansas City, and, for eight years, as a television copywriter for New York City advertising agencies. She and her husband settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they ran a small publishing house, Lightning Tree. She died in 1999. THE MOONFLOWER VINE is her only published novel. Author photo Credit: copyright, William G. Berkeley