From the Dust Jacket:
This is the story of the Carver family of Georgia. At the center of the book is Cean Carver, whose life is described in astonishing detail, from the day of her marriage when she leaves her family to establish a new home, to the time when she welcomes her second husband back from the Civil War.
The Carvers are simple enough people, living close to the soil, as much a part of the natural scene as the changing seasons and the ripening of the crops.
Caroline Miller tells of them with raw insight, humor and drama–in a prose of such rich quality that many times it approaches genuine poetry.
Lamb in His Bosom is the story of what may be the unluckiest family in Georgia before the Civil War. Whether it’s illness, stillbirth, gangrene, fire (twice), or even panther attack, it seems like everything that could go wrong, does. Following Caen Carver, the novel chronicles several decades of rural farming life before and through the Civil War, giving what feels like an overly-dramatized look at these character’s lives. Having not lived through that time period or lifestyle, I’m in no way qualified to remark on how realistic Miller’s depiction is, but as the novel progressed, I found myself wondering how many more things would go wrong for this family, which I suppose also made the little victories in the novel all the more surprising.
Other than that, I found the novel a fascinating counterpoint to the previous year’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Store, and T. S. Stribling’s previous novel, The Forge. Whereas The Store and The Forge looked at the life of a slave owning family in Alabama in the decades before and after the Civil War, Lamb in His Bosom takes a look at the poor farming class in the years before the war, who were almost hidden in the swamps and forests of Georgia, far from any town or settlement or store, and could not even dream of owning slaves. Miller’s depiction of the Carver family in the first half of the 19th Century reminds me of the lifestyle that is often associated with the Appalachian region in literature and film. It is a lifestyle centered around the land and the home that seems very isolated on first impression, but one in which neighbors, despite the distance between houses, play an important role in each other’s lives. Continue reading