“The Reading Lessons” – Lucinda and Hadley are two friends, whose destinies are not meant to cross, with a love for forbidden books and readings. Lucinda, despite her caprices, is the gravitating point for Hadley and their usual play almost an addiction. And like any addiction no good can come out of it. (My review of the short story published in Carole Lanham’s “The Whisper Jar”.)
“The Reading Lessons” is one of the stories of Carole Lanham’s excellent debut collection, “The Whisper Jar”, but it is also the starting point for the upcoming first novel of the author. I’ve seen over the years a couple of short stories that led to longer pieces of fiction, but “The Reading Lessons” is the first in a long time that I await with fervent anticipation. It cannot be otherwise since “The Whisper Jar” was one of the best books I read last year and a collection that revealed a very talented writer. It is true that after reading “The Whisper Jar” my expectations for Carole Lanham’s works are high, but by the looks of her debut collection I have a certain belief that I would not be disappointed. With a first-hand experience on Carole Lanham’s subtle and challenging works I think that “The Reading Lessons” would touch a few very important issues in the author’s uncomfortable but excellent manner. If I am right or wrong or if my expectations are too high remains to be seen when Carole Lanham’s novel will be released by Immortal Ink Publishing on May. Maybe these are a little besides the point too, since “The Reading Lessons” is now one of my most anticipated releases of 2013.
Mississippi 1920: Nine year old servant, Hadley Crump, finds himself drawn into a secret world when he is invited to join wealthy Lucinda Browning’s dirty book club. No one suspects that the bi-racial son of the cook is anything more to Lucinda than a charitable obligation, but behind closed doors, O! she doth teach the torches to burn bright. What begins as a breathless investigation into the more juicy parts of literature quickly becomes a consuming and life-long habit for two people who would not otherwise be left alone together. As lynchings erupt across the South and the serving staff is slowly cut to make way for new mechanical household conveniences, Hadley begins to understand how dangerous and precarious his situation is.
The Reading Lessons follows the lives of two people born into a world that is unforgiving as a Hangman’s knot. Divided by skin color and joined by books, Hadley and Lucinda are forced to come together in the only place that will allow it, a land of printed words and dark secrets.