Picks and Pans Review: Come and Go, Molly Snow

updated 02/27/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/27/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Mary Ann Taylor-Hall

Carrie Marie Mullins would give anything to have Molly back. Her daughter was 5 when she was mowed down by a pickup truck. Her death shattered Carrie's life. She tried to keep playing fiddle in the local bluegrass band but soon suffered a breakdown.

Come and Go, Molly Snow, a remarkable first novel, turns Carrie's melody into a memorable song. Reeling with emptiness, she is cared for by two elderly sisters-in-law in a rambling old house outside of town. Her days are filled with ordinary moments—setting up peaches, walking to a neighbor's farm—but in her mind, she wanders the roads that took her to this place. In Taylor-Hall's hands, grief becomes a beautiful rendition of memory.

Carrie's daddy played tenor sax but was nothing of a family man. He died when she was 15, leaving her with a head full of music and a heart for faraway men, which explains her attraction to Cap Dunlap, the lead guitarist for Hawktown Road. At first she kept her distance. She played fiddle with her girlfriends, had a baby, Molly, with a boy just passing through from Georgia and felt safe—until she accepted Dunlap's invitation to join his band.

Feisty, endearing and spontaneous, Carrie follows her dream in a world dominated by men, and Molly's death leads her to understand her own misunderstood need for love. Her passion fills this novel with lyrical intensity. Her spirit leaps from the narrative like an inspired improvisation. (Norton, $21)

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