When Maggie of Maggie Reads quoted the Raleigh News and Observer, which said that the novelist Clyde Edgerton was "the love child of Dave Barry and Flannery O'Connor," I quickly placed a reserve for Raney, his first novel. I expected something strangely humorous. I was not disappointed.
An engagement announcement from the Hansen County Pilot on the opening page of the novel tells us that Raney is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thurman, the owner of a combination bait shop and grocery and a housewife. Raney is to marry Charles C. Shepherd at the Bethel Baptist Church. Charles is the assistant librarian at the Listre Community College and is full of liberal ideas that are going to shock his Bethel Free Will Baptist bride's world.
Charles had introduced himself to Raney at a Christmas dinner for faculty at the college. She had sung for the event, and he asked her to sing with him and his banjo. They fell in love without ever talking about their deeply set beliefs.
What we read is Raney's closely kept diary, in which she tells us of the wedding and their first year of marriage. You can bet she never intends anyone else to see it. Nearly every page includes an account of humorous incident, like Charles's reluctance to eat okra or his infuriating tendency to prefer reading books to visiting with her folks, but the novel is really very serious. It would be a great book discussion selection. Look for it in your library.
Edgerton, Clyde. Raney. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1985. ISBN 0912697172