I’ll admit that before I even started reading “Mud Puddles and Muscadines”, written by Pat Brannon, I had to look up the word “muscadine”, because I had no idea what it meant. I guess you just don’t hear that word much where I grew up. So in case you are also unfamiliar with the term, please note that a muscadine is a grapevine species that is native to the southeastern United States.
Now, on to the actual book review. “Mud Puddles and Muscadines” is a collection of personal essays and poetry about the author’s experiences growing up in rural Arkansas. Ranging in time from the 1950′s until the 1970′s, the stories cover a broad range of people, places and memories that deeply affected the author’s life in one way or another. To me, reading through the book almost felt like watching an “Andy Griffith” marathon. Being a child of the 80′s and 90′s who was born in an urban, northern area, I certainly never experienced a place as innocent and charming as Griffith’s Mayberry, but while reading through these essays, I felt like I was vicariously experiencing the simple country life I had only before seen on tv.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that the author of “Mud Puddles and Muscadines” always had an easy life surrounded by perfect people. She is very honest about the virtues and vices of those she knew and the struggles and victories she experienced growing up. However, even though life back then might not have been idyllic, there are some lessons our current culture could definitely learn from the past. It’s no wonder that many people long for a time when communities were close-knit and the people took care of each other. In our materialistic, often rushed modern society, it seems that some important things have been overlooked. Luckily, there are people like Pat Brannon who still remember those things and are willing to share them with the rest of us.
I would highly recommend this book for those who feel a bit nostalgic for their own past or for those who wish to experience the charm of an old-fashioned, small town world for the first time. For more information about the book and how to purchase a copy, please visit the author’s website.