Sarah Crook, a plantation owner’s wife, and her best friend and neighbor Nita, a black woman, are as close as any friends
could ever be. Although the color of their skin is different, they share the same sass, the same can-do spirit, and the same
loyalty to each another. Theirs is a friendship that defi es what is expected of a woman, traditional Southern conventions,
and the segregation of the time period. Yet their friendship lasts their whole lives through.
In many ways, the two women are intertwined over the span of several generations. The arrival of Sherman’s army
changes their family dynamics. The Ku Klux Klan has an impact on their personal safety and livelihood. Education shapes
the future for their children and grandchildren, and a lopsided system of justice leaves the future of some family members’
lives hanging in the balance.
Sarah’s granddaughter Holly is blind at birth. Nita’s granddaughter Neely becomes her playmate, companion, and
confi dant. Much like their grandmother, the girls live in separate households but share a common spirit and an undying
frindship, depending upon each other for support as they enter adulthood and face personal challenges.
When the Reverend Steven Canon, a Northerner, arrives in the rural North Carolina community of Saw Mill Cove, he
sweeps Neely off her feet. Their relationship is out of the ordinary and troubled from the get-go. Steven has a secret that
he must keep hidden from others in order to be successful, and he uses Neely as a means to an end.
After Grandmama Nita and Mama Tress catch wind of how the reverend has mistreated Neely, they take matters into
their own hands. Grandmama and her friend Laura must appear before a grand jury while Mama Tress is tried not once, but
twice for the reverend’s demise. But things aren’t on the up and up in Anson County; the justice system is fl awed. A sheriff,
judge, coroner, surprise witness, and clerk muddle the proceedings. As a result, Tress becomes a scapegoat.
Once Neely is on her own, free from Reverend Canon, she has an opportunity to spread her wings in New York City.
She makes choices that allow her to be true to herself and fi nd contentment. From that point on, the choices that she and
her daughter, Lillian, make in regard to the snake oil salesman named Steven Canon are risky and fi lled with drama.
Our Blue Skies, Red Birds, and White Magnolias chronicles four generations of strong women and proves what can
happen when a woman trusts her heart and mind to make a right decision.
—Paula M. Sheard, Editor