Typically, I do my own book reviews of manuscripts by Kentucky Authors, but a good friend of mine – Mitch Holbrook – has written such a beautiful tour through the first book by Silas House, “Clay’s Quilt.” With his permission I give you a Kentucky Author review of Clay’s Quilt.
“Clay’s Quilt” by Silas House
Published by the Random House Publishing group, New York.
2001 by Silas House.
292 pages + readers guide.
This book is the first in Mr. House’s “Crow County Trilogy” but it is set as the conclusion of the story that began with “A Parchment of Leaves” which is set in the early part of the last century. This installment focuses upon Anneth’s son, Clay, whom was birthed at the end of the trilogy’s final book (but second chronologically) “The Coal Tattoo.” This is mentioned only as reminder that each novel can stand alone, but the whole is great than the sum of its parts. Each part of this story is a verse that creates a song long remembered for its harmony and lyrics.
Clay Sizemore is now 24, having been reared on Free Creek by his Aunt Easter and Uncle Gabe after the death of his mother Anneth. He knows he is loved and will always have a home in the holler bordered by Free Creek and “his” mountain. Having the security of a loving family gives him the ability to leave this family enclave on his eighteenth birthday, obtaining a job mining coal and renting an apartment 10 miles from his homestead and set out “to see the world,” as long as the world is contained in Crow County. This separation is the tension that drives this novel. The remainder of the tale is the trail by which Clay returns to the home he could never really leave. When he does arrive “back home” he brings with him those things that were missing from his soul, the things that allowed him to truly find Home.
Music, nature and relationships are, once again, vital to this story. Mr. House uses his love of nature and music to deepen the story and give it a vibrant hue. Clay meets his love interest, Alma, while she is playing the fiddle at The Hill Top, Crow County’s only honky-tonk and he knows she is “the One” the first note he sees her play. They learn about each other during the time they spend together in the surrounding nature, the love Anneth had for the forest, wildflowers and land continues in her progeny and his love, Alma.
The title given this novel is not defined until the last pages of the book and it is a timely revelation. The patchwork that makes up Clay’s quilt is created by each vignette played out in the lives of those who inhabit Free Creek, Kentucky. The bright reds, yellows and blues of joy and celebration are framed by the more subtle browns, greys and ochers of trials and heartaches are all used in the cloth that creates this blanket meant to warm Clay. He is covered by the quilt but the warmth is supplied by his family’s history of love, connection and support. It is a blanket worth having.