Tennyson by Lesley M. M. Blume is one of those Southern gothic novels that I find so very appealing to curl up with on a rainy day. During the depression, 11-year-old Tennyson Fontaine (yep, named after the poet) and her sister Hattie live a bohemian life out in the woods with their father, who turned his back on his Southern aristocratic roots, and their mother who has a poet's soul. When their mother runs off, they are sent to live with their eccentric old aunt (a must-have in any good Southern gothic novel, right?) in a crumbling Louisiana plantation home called Aigredoux (translation from French: bittersweet) while their father goes in search of her.
Tennyson, old for her years and a talented writer herself, starts having dreams and visions of the cruel past the house has seen, and begins writing down the old home's "memories"--both the bittersweet and the horrific from the time of the Civil War...sending them off to a New York magazine that her mother has always admired in an attempt to contact her mother.
I love the character of Tennyson, but I love the character of Aigredoux itself even more. It has the type of haunting beauty that often masks cruelty and moral decay, and possesses the kind of pride that comes before a fall.
The ending is more realistic than happily ever after, and I love that because it suits this work, just as the cover does.
I loved this book and recommend it for grades 7 and up.