Author: Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly

+Blog Book Tour+ The Tilted World by Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly #histfic

Posted Tuesday, 8 July, 2014 by jorielov , , , , 4 Comments

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The Tilted World by Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly

The Tilted World by Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly

Published By:William Morrow (@WmMorrowBks),
10 June 2014 (reprint – paperback edition)
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers ()
Author PagesTom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly @ Mississippi Writers & Musicians
Available Formats: Hardcover, Paperback & Ebook
Page Count: 336

Converse on Twitter via: #TheTiltedWorld, #TomFranklin, & #BethAnnFennelly

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Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “The Tilted World” virtual book tour through TLC  Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher William Morrow, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

The premise of the story itself appealed to me, but truly what captured my heart and attention about this particular story was the book review posted by Max Winter on Los Angeles Review of Books. Talk about centering one’s attention around a story and the characters within the story in such a way as to illuminate The Tilted World in a tangible and cohesive way to warrant you to itch to read its chapters for yourself! I could not wait to sign up for the blog tour after reading this particular review, because I felt inspired by the words in which Winter imparted on the novel’s behalf as much as the attention he gave to the writers who penned the tale itself. It truly is a review that captures the joy of reading and the blessings of finding stories which capture our attention. The kind of review I always hope I am able to write myself, and thereby, inspire others to read the stories which instill a fond memory inside my heart for having found them.

I had found this title through my local library prior to being selected for the tour, however, I never did have the properly chance to check the book out! I simply like giving a nod to my library for being a constant source of inspiration of where I find new authors and new stories to read!

Book Synopsis:

Set against the backdrop of the historic flooding of the Mississippi River, The Tilted World is an extraordinary tale of murder and moonshine, sandbagging and saboteurs, and a man and a woman who find unexpected love, from Tom Franklin, the acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, and award-winning poet Beth Ann Fennelly

The year is 1927. As rains swell the Mississippi, the mighty river threatens to burst its banks and engulf everything in its path, including federal revenue agent Ted Ingersoll and his partner, Ham Johnson. Arriving in the tiny hamlet of Hobnob, Mississippi, to investigate the disappearance of two fellow agents who’d been on the trail of a local bootlegger, they are astonished to find a baby boy abandoned in the middle of a crime scene.

Ingersoll, an orphan raised by nuns, is determined to find the infant a home, and his search leads him to Dixie Clay Holliver. A strong woman married too young to a philandering charmer, Dixie Clay has lost a child to illness and is powerless to resist this second chance at motherhood. From the moment they meet, Ingersoll and Dixie Clay are drawn to each other. He has no idea that she’s the best bootlegger in the county and may be connected to the agents’ disappearance. And while he seems kind and gentle, Dixie Clay knows full well that he is an enemy who can never be trusted.

When Ingersoll learns that a saboteur might be among them, planning a catastrophe along the river that would wreak havoc in Hobnob, he knows that he and Dixie Clay will face challenges and choices that they will be fortunate to survive. Written with extraordinary insight and tenderness, The Tilted World is that rarest of creations, a story of seemingly ordinary people who find hope and deliverance where they least expect it—in each other.

Author Biographies:Tom Franklin

Tom Franklin is the award-winning and New York Timesbestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, which was nominated for nine awards and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association’s Gold Dagger Award. His previous works include Poachers, whose title story won the Edgar Award, as well as Hell at the Breech and Smonk. The winner of a 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship, he teaches in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.

Beth Ann Fennelly

Beth Ann Fennelly has won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and United States Artists, as well as a Fulbright grant to travel to Brazil. Her honors include the Kenyon Review Prize and three inclusions in The Best American Poetry. She has published three volumes of poetry as well as a work of nonfiction, Great with Child. She directs the University of Mississippi’s MFA program, where she was named the 2011 Outstanding Teacher of the Year.

Beth Ann and Tom live in Oxford, Mississippi, with their three children.

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Read an Excerpt of the Novel:

The Tilted World: A Novel by HarperCollins

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The Southern States and Mid-West during the 1920s:

Etched into the background of the novel, is the discourse and disillusionment of the 1920s era of socioeconomic differences between the classes. From seeing points of view of the federal agents operating under Hoover’s arm of command (prior to his Presidency, I had not realised he was what I would consider one of the first officials to take charge in a manner that is representative of what we now call FEMA) to the sweeping arc of seeing the everyday world of farmers, bootleggers, and every person in-between caught between the Mississippi and higher ground. The prejudicial views between cultural backgrounds are also fully present, as they would be as the Civil Rights era was still a ways off into the future. It was a time of distrust and a discrepancy of honour, as there are murmurings of agents on the take and of back-end deals that would disrupt the integrity of law and order.

What I appreciated the most is the manner in which everything is depicted and given a true voice to the era in which the story is set. The authors found a way to relay the fullness of the time without making you feel the heavy weight of the research. The bits they worked into the background aide the reader’s impression of the time and help paint the picture for those of us without relatives who either survived the flood or remembered its aftermath.

My review of The Tilted World:

The opening of the story is hitch-tailed to an all-out flash and dash shoot-out between two of the main lead characters: Jesse and Dixie Clay Holliver (a whipper snapper of woman if I ever laid eyes on in a novel) and two federal agents! She has the rapid fire intensity of a Southerner mixed in with a taste of moxie only a moonshining bootlegger of a woman would dare attribute to her list of qualities! She keeps calm under intense pressure of stress fused to a situation that does not bend nor yield to a positive outcome. Her husband Jesse, on the other hand, is a stick of dynamite that has less sense inside his head than a hound dog! He simply acts on impulse, lacks remorse and has no empathy for another life if given the chance to save his own skin. The two are a motley mix to be perfectly straight and frank, but fit within the manner in which the story is told through the writer’s vision that draws you into a story as complex and layered as this one is moulded!

I have always had a keen eye on Southern Literature (i.e. either literary exploits like this one OR Southern Gothic in nature), and this one by far captures the full essence of why I appreciate the category within its realm. On the one hand you have people living as best they can on the outskirts of the law, and on the opposite side you have the law itself, in the form of federal agents attempting to keep order whilst dealing with the lawbreakers who for all their quirks and sins, have captured your attention to hear their story straight til the concluding chapters! There is always going to be heavy drama against the backdrop of displacement and angst associated with natural disasters, but what I always worried about myself was the level of violence, looting, and absence of propriety during the time when it would be wiser to draw closer together as neighbours and aide each other through the worst bits still yet to come. To come together as a community rather than stand divided against each other on political or social grounds that in the end won’t add up to much if the loss of land and life outweighs the injustice of division.

I will admit, I had never heard of the Mississippi Flood of 1927 prior to my reading of The Tilted World, which struck me as a bit odd as I have always been rather keen on researching natural disasters and understanding climate change and the environmental impacts on a shifting global climate on a larger scale. Of course, truth be known until I saw back-to-back tornado documentaries on The Weather Channel this Spring, I had missed a few key storm systems, including the footage from the 1920s and 1930s which destroyed parts of the Northeast & New England states. I find that when it comes to climate and weather patterns, none of us truly know the full wrath of nature until the storm is upon us and the waters start to recede.

The murder and violence which erupts out of desperation runs counter-current to the drama unfolding for Dixie Clay (as she is commonly referred), who is running head-on into a situation quite beyond her control. The foreboding presence of the  natural world is a key element and nearly a narrator to the story. I appreciate the rooted presence of the beguiling skies and the approaching Mississippi; it gives way to understanding how fragile and how insufficient we are when it comes to the natural world and the cycles of its rhythms. There is a complete surprise sequence in the middle of the mayhem that truly warmed my heart, as is typically the plot twist I’d suspect to find inside a Romance novel (i.e. by ChocLitUK or Heartsong Presents): a brute and strong man finds his heart melts as soon as he meets a wee babe without a house, a home, or a family! I loved the sequences in which separated the federal agents: Ted Ingersoll and Ham Johnson – where one went to secure the flood zone from a supposed murderer on the lamb, the other went to sort out the affairs of the baby they found in the middle of the crime scene! That action by Ingersoll took him on a haphazard journey towards realising that he could no more leave the babe he nicknamed ‘Junior’ (after finding out his gender by way of changing his nappy!) at an orphanage than he could leave his roan in the mud!

Quite a classic scene in the early bits of the novel is when Ingersoll saunders rain-soaked down to his shins, covered in mud and muck, with an infant at his chest into what we would refer to as a General Mercantile with an attached Soda Fountain café with a bewildered expression that begged for help to secure his needs. He plucked out a bit of the money Hoover had given him to take the journey towards Hobnob and spent it on securing a better future for Junior. My own mind flitted back towards Dixie Clay and how she was suffering from postpartum depression from the loss of her own babe Jacob. Call me crazy, or maybe I’ve read a few too many romances in my time, but I thought to myself as the scene was setting up for Ingersoll and Junior, wouldn’t that make a mighty fine resolution to Dixie Clay’s situation? She’s a Mum-to-Be who lost her wee child too fast and too tragically. A woman in her early twenties without much of a prospect of a life outside of hard work and depressing living conditions with a husband who chases skirts and forgets he’s even married. Perhaps not the most ideal match, I grant you, but I had a hankering of a feeling the writers might spin this tale into a bit of a redemptive arc and give Dixie Clay a second chance at life, motherhood, and love.

I positively adore finding stories where men who otherwise are engaged into their careers would not even consider they were ready to become parents suddenly find themselves in the custody and care of a child! The way in which they approach the situation and how they handle the onslaught of emotions and conflicting beliefs of whether or not they feel befit to raise a child never loses its hold on my heart. I love seeing how unexpected circumstances give a ‘second view of life’ to someone who never thought they would have any life outside their respective job of choice. To see how their life would be different as a father, especially is a joy for a reader who loves how these kind of stories knit together. In this way, I was overjoyed with the passages Franklin & Fennelly stitched into “The Tilted World” on behalf of Ingersoll and Junior.

By the time I reached Chapter 14 & Chapter 15, my feelings of the novel started to shift and turn against the story as I was thinking of the tale heading in one direction only to arrive in one I was hoping against. The earlier chapters where Dixie Clay was describing her life and starting to piece together a life for her and Willy (Junior’s adopted name), I felt were the strongest parts knitting the story together and bringing forward a chance for Ingersoll and Dixie to come together. In the back of my mind, however, I knew that Jesse was a character who was as evil as the pitch of night, and that he might not be the type to simply let her walk out of his life, much less leave with her life in tact.

Dixie Clay’s life was not the kind of life most fathers would have wanted for their daughters, but her story reminded me of the women who find themselves trapped inside of a life they did not realise they had married into either. She was smarter than she felt, but she did not always make the right choices at the right moments to escape the heartache and the violence her husband would cast upon her without mercy. The rest of the story ebbed away from me, as I simply felt a bit disconnected from the remaining chapters of the story. For me, the better part of the story involved the second chance Dixie Clay and Ted Ingersoll had at having a life which involved love and the care of a child they both have fallen in love with the first moment they met him. The bits I struggled with were the menacing factors attributed to Jesse and his ill-plans for the towne he was attempting to destroy whilst erasing every inch of his life with Dixie Clay. The Mississippi true to its natural strength plays a strong role in how everything ties together and how wicked events can turn when acted upon out of hate and spite.

On the dual writing styles of a husband & wife team:

Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly co-write The Tilted World in such a way as to allow the reader to jettison into the Deep South, the Mississippi Delta region, and portions of the Mid-West as though we were alighting our shoes and feet during those epic days and nights awaiting for the floodwaters to crest and overtake our very own lands in 1927! The way in which they indued the setting and the swirling nightmaric event yet to come is a credit to their understanding of Southern Literature and the elements in which drift us back through time itself. They very much understand the subtlety of prose interwoven with narrative, and their ability to shine a light on a catastrophic event with the keen insight of the counter-culture affecting the tides of the people whose lives hang in the balance is rather brilliant!

The entire time I was reading The Tilted World, all I could think about was Clarkesville, Missouri a towne that was told there wasn’t enough resources (i.e. money) to battle the approaching flood-waters. They were very much on their own. A towne whose Mayor full of grief knew what that declaration would mean to her towne and to the people who lived there. We are still living through soul-wrecking natural disasters which are going to test not only our resolve but our strength as a nation. To not only survive, but to find ways to help each other without leaving anyone behind or without the resources for aide. I also recollected the efforts Fargoians gave to help stop the Red River from overtaking both Fargo (North Dakota) and Moorhead (Minnesota) not so long ago from today. We have a surge of bravery inside us, but nature is going to continue to test our will and our fortitude. We need to find ways to better prepare ourselves for what is going to become imminently devastating and minimalise the aftereffects.

 A small notation about vulgarity and the stronger language used proportionally throughout the text: as I consider this particular title to be held within the arena of literary fiction, there is a small measure of grace given for the inclusion of strong language, esp considering the time frame in which the story is set, the degree of the extreme events depicted, and the mindset of the characters who are reflecting their true natures within the context of the story’s arc. None of the blights of language used within the text affected me, because at the rare moments a word was said or used, it fit the subjective nature of the sentence or paragraph, did not alter or takeaway the narrative voice, and was realistically representative of the story. My only grave concerns on this particular topic of vulgarity is when it is used to shock or to jolt a reader out of the context of a story, or used surreptitiously without foundation. In this case, the writers owned the essence of their setting, the manner in which their style eludes to the greater horror of the historic flood, and conveyed their characters with honour. 

I also purposely did not mention the hurricane which destroyed the Gulf States in 2005. I believed it was quite apparent how this epic flood in 1927 was a precursor to Katrina and that mentioning it was not necessary. Afterall, none of us who live in this region will ever forget the storm, whether we were directly or indirectly impacted by its wrath. I personally still remember being on the road and interacting with survivors as much as the men and women who came into the region to provide aide, resources, and a sense of normalcy when the world was once again upturnt. What did surprise me is that this particular flood was not mentioned in any of the stories I listened too during Katrina, nor was it referenced after 2005. I am quite gobsmacked how this part of history seems to have disappeared from view and mind, like the writers hint at inside their Author’s Note.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comThis Blog Tour Stop is courtesy of TLC Book Tours:

The Tilted World
by Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Genres: Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction


Published by William Morrow

on 10th of June, 2014

Format: Paperback

Pages: 336

TLC Book Tours | Tour HostFun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comVirtual Road Map of “The Tilted World” Blog Tour:

Thursday, June 12th: Cruising Susan Reviews

Thursday, June 19th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Friday, June 27th: The Relentless Reader

Monday, June 30th: Kritters Ramblings

Wednesday, July 2nd: Books on the Table

Thursday, July 3rd: Anita Loves Books

Monday, July 7th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Tuesday, July 8th: Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, July 9th: A Bookworm’s World

TBD: Unabridged Chick

Please visit my Bookish Events page to stay in the know for upcoming events!

{SOURCES: Book cover for “The Tilted World”, Author Biography, Author Photograph, and Book Synopsis  were provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Buy links on Scribd excerpt are not affiliated with Jorie Loves A Story. Book Excerpt was able to be embedded due to codes provided by Scribd.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

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Posted Tuesday, 8 July, 2014 by jorielov in 20th Century, Adoption, African-American History, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book | Novel Excerpt, Bookish Discussions, Bootleggers & Smugglers, Crime Fiction, Domestic Violence, Family Life, Historical Fiction, Historical Perspectives, History, Library Find, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Mississippi River, Natural Disasters & Catastrophic Events, Orphans & Guardians, Prohibition, Scribd, Small Towne Fiction, The Deep South, the Mississippi Flood of 1927, The Natural World, TLC Book Tours, Vulgarity in Literature, Writing Style & Voice