Berkley, Oct 2001, 22.95, 304 pp.
China Bayles is a self made independent woman who turned her back on her mother's Mississippi family because she refused to conform to the old South's vision of how a woman should behave. She lives in Pecan Springs, Texas with her husband and stepson. She proudly owns the Thyme and Sears herb shop and is co-owner of Thyme for Tea teashop. She has no plans to return to the family plantation of Jordan's Crossing until her mother calls her because she needs her help.
When China arrives at the old homestead, she learns that her great-aunt Tullie, a victim of Huntington's Disease, has struck down the plantation manager in a fit of anger. China's mother argues with her daughter that the irate manager walked out of the house enraged, but he has since disappeared. The police want to question Tullie about the spat. As China struggles to balance family loyalty with her legal responsibilities, she unearths secrets that should stay buried in the land that created them.
This is a different China Bayles unlike the one readers have come to know and love. The audience sees her as a true daughter of the south, fully cognizant of the rules, expectations and ties that bind her to a place she no longer can call home but has a hold on her loyalties. There are mysteries aplenty in BLOODROOT, some of them of the otherworldly kind. The author allows us to see, through the fist person narrative, how a Southern woman copes with her environment. This is a wonderful reading experience.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner