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Moon Women

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In the lush North Carolina foothills, the Moon women have put down roots: matriarch Marvelle Moon, who’s losing her grip on the world after more than eighty years of life; her daughters, Ruth Ann and Cassandra; and Ruth Ann’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Ashley, fresh out of rehab, unmarried, and three months pregnant. Despite Ruth Ann’s best efforts to live a life that’s a In the lush North Carolina foothills, the Moon women have put down roots: matriarch Marvelle Moon, who’s losing her grip on the world after more than eighty years of life; her daughters, Ruth Ann and Cassandra; and Ruth Ann’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Ashley, fresh out of rehab, unmarried, and three months pregnant. Despite Ruth Ann’s best efforts to live a life that’s all her own, her family is coming together around her. Marvelle and Ashley need a place to live and Ruth Ann is unable to turn them away; and her womanizing ex-husband has been coming around again, dredging up the past. Now a flurry of outbursts, emotions, and outrages is shattering Ruth Ann’s separate peace. For here is Ashley, who has spent nineteen years running furiously away from home, now finding herself on a strange journey with her unraveling grandmother. And here is Cassandra, protected by layers of obesity and loneliness, wondering how to put magic back in her life. And Marvelle, slowly losing touch with reality, privately contemplating the story of her life and the secret that would change everything for everyone—if they only knew.... By turns fierce and tender, harrowing and heartbreaking, Moon Women resonates with emotional power, holding us captive under its beguiling spell.


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In the lush North Carolina foothills, the Moon women have put down roots: matriarch Marvelle Moon, who’s losing her grip on the world after more than eighty years of life; her daughters, Ruth Ann and Cassandra; and Ruth Ann’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Ashley, fresh out of rehab, unmarried, and three months pregnant. Despite Ruth Ann’s best efforts to live a life that’s a In the lush North Carolina foothills, the Moon women have put down roots: matriarch Marvelle Moon, who’s losing her grip on the world after more than eighty years of life; her daughters, Ruth Ann and Cassandra; and Ruth Ann’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Ashley, fresh out of rehab, unmarried, and three months pregnant. Despite Ruth Ann’s best efforts to live a life that’s all her own, her family is coming together around her. Marvelle and Ashley need a place to live and Ruth Ann is unable to turn them away; and her womanizing ex-husband has been coming around again, dredging up the past. Now a flurry of outbursts, emotions, and outrages is shattering Ruth Ann’s separate peace. For here is Ashley, who has spent nineteen years running furiously away from home, now finding herself on a strange journey with her unraveling grandmother. And here is Cassandra, protected by layers of obesity and loneliness, wondering how to put magic back in her life. And Marvelle, slowly losing touch with reality, privately contemplating the story of her life and the secret that would change everything for everyone—if they only knew.... By turns fierce and tender, harrowing and heartbreaking, Moon Women resonates with emotional power, holding us captive under its beguiling spell.

30 review for Moon Women

  1. 4 out of 5

    Debby

    Moon Women is Pamela Duncan's debut novel. What a captivating, heartwarming and funny story with a great cast of characters!! It's about 3 generations of the Moon family women - grandma, mom and her youngest daughter. The story is set in the South and full of family drama, family love and yes, there's a family secret! I will say for those who don't like to read books written in the manner in which a person who lived in that area would really speak - Moon Women is written in Appalachian English. Moon Women is Pamela Duncan's debut novel. What a captivating, heartwarming and funny story with a great cast of characters!! It's about 3 generations of the Moon family women - grandma, mom and her youngest daughter. The story is set in the South and full of family drama, family love and yes, there's a family secret! I will say for those who don't like to read books written in the manner in which a person who lived in that area would really speak - Moon Women is written in Appalachian English. To me, that makes the story and the characters all the more real and believable. Moon Women is a very well written and enjoyable book. I will definitely be reading Pamela Duncan's two other books very soon!

  2. 5 out of 5

    DeB MaRtEnS

    Long, long ago... I read this novel. I forgot that I had read it, and I read it again, in 2012. I have never reviewed it... Just one of those books from days before I did so, but it has never left me. I believe that I will read it again, if I can find a copy, and perhaps this time I should keep it. Strong women with screwed up lives - not by choice; circumstance and opportunity, obligation or duty, relationships pulling them away from their gifts. The longer I've known them, the more I've loved Long, long ago... I read this novel. I forgot that I had read it, and I read it again, in 2012. I have never reviewed it... Just one of those books from days before I did so, but it has never left me. I believe that I will read it again, if I can find a copy, and perhaps this time I should keep it. Strong women with screwed up lives - not by choice; circumstance and opportunity, obligation or duty, relationships pulling them away from their gifts. The longer I've known them, the more I've loved them. An utterly memorable book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    I know these women. Actually, some of them are kinfolk. And I love these people; you can't help but love these ladies. Trouble comes and the women deal with it, over and over and over. Recommended.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    I love books about generations of women, their interactions, their struggles, their conflicts, and the love they share within a family. This is just such a book, about the grandmother, Marvelle Moon, her daughters, Ruth Anne and Cassandra, the granddaughter, Ashley and all the men in their lives. The book begins with Ashley coming home from a half-way house, 19, pregnant, and unmarried. Marvelle is 82, falling in and out of dementia while she remembers her long life with her husband and 12 child I love books about generations of women, their interactions, their struggles, their conflicts, and the love they share within a family. This is just such a book, about the grandmother, Marvelle Moon, her daughters, Ruth Anne and Cassandra, the granddaughter, Ashley and all the men in their lives. The book begins with Ashley coming home from a half-way house, 19, pregnant, and unmarried. Marvelle is 82, falling in and out of dementia while she remembers her long life with her husband and 12 children. Ruth Anne, divorced, and Cassandra, overweight and unmarried, are in mid-life, coming to grips with being the sandwich generation between their failing mother and Ashley. The plot unfolds and the past plays out for us in Marvelle's mind, and we learn about untold family secrets.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Linda Branham Greenwell

    This is a book describing the interactions between 3 generations of women ... their eccentricities and relationships. A lot of time is spent on character development... but their characters are each influenced by the others... It will make you laugh and cry. You will recognize yourself, and come to understand how many of your idiosyncrasies are related to your family

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This book is about three generations of women of the Moon family who live in the mountains of North Carolina. We have the youngest girl, Ashley 19, who has been in all kinds of trouble and ends up pregnant and back at home. We have her mother, Ruth Anne who is at her wits end dealing with her daughter and her ex-husband. We have Ruth Anne’s sister Cassandra, who at 40 is overweight and still single and we have their mother Marvelle Moon who is battling dementia. In this book the women all come t This book is about three generations of women of the Moon family who live in the mountains of North Carolina. We have the youngest girl, Ashley 19, who has been in all kinds of trouble and ends up pregnant and back at home. We have her mother, Ruth Anne who is at her wits end dealing with her daughter and her ex-husband. We have Ruth Anne’s sister Cassandra, who at 40 is overweight and still single and we have their mother Marvelle Moon who is battling dementia. In this book the women all come together and learn life lessons from each other. I especially loved Marvelle who had so much wisdom to impart; she is the reason I finally gave this a five star rating. I loved the writing - it was very authentic. I also loved seeing how the characters evolved during the course of the book. There were also some great verses in this book such as... “Creation,” Marvelle said, “A baby’s head has the smell of the creator’s touch still on it, fresh from God, all new and untarnished by this world.” I recommend this book to anyone who loves to read about the strength of women and the love of families.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    The book was about 3 generations of the Moon women - with the grandmother, Marvelle Ann; the mother, Ruth Ann, and her sister, Cassandra; and the teenager, Ashley Ann. Marvelle is an eighty-two-year-old widow who is losing her mind and is ready to die. Ruth Ann is divorced and Cassandra has never been married. Ashley Ann was a runaway, but is coming home because she is pregnant. I enjoyed following their lives, reading how Ashley and Marvelle interacted with each other. A book about relationship The book was about 3 generations of the Moon women - with the grandmother, Marvelle Ann; the mother, Ruth Ann, and her sister, Cassandra; and the teenager, Ashley Ann. Marvelle is an eighty-two-year-old widow who is losing her mind and is ready to die. Ruth Ann is divorced and Cassandra has never been married. Ashley Ann was a runaway, but is coming home because she is pregnant. I enjoyed following their lives, reading how Ashley and Marvelle interacted with each other. A book about relationships between mothers and their daughters as well as the love relationships between Ruth Ann and her ex-husband A.J. along with Ashley with her baby's daddy - Keith. Marvelle also had a secret that she kept hidden even to the end, but she came to peace with it. In fact, all the women in this book came to some kind of peace at the end.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    A light, enjoyable read. No surprises (well, maybe one), no horror, no evil. Just a story about three generations of North Carolina women and their men and family joys and heartaches. Written in the dialect of the area, this book is engaging and earthy. I felt as if I could actually see and hear the characters as they went about their daily lives, and their relationships were realistic. This book reminded me of Fannie Flagg's novels. A nice break from some of the darker books I read. Very well-w A light, enjoyable read. No surprises (well, maybe one), no horror, no evil. Just a story about three generations of North Carolina women and their men and family joys and heartaches. Written in the dialect of the area, this book is engaging and earthy. I felt as if I could actually see and hear the characters as they went about their daily lives, and their relationships were realistic. This book reminded me of Fannie Flagg's novels. A nice break from some of the darker books I read. Very well-written.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    What a delightful book! Three generations of Moon women living together and each has a story to tell. The characters are so interesting that you want to hug each and every one of them! I highly recommend this book and would most likely read another book by this author.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tammy Adams

    Note to self - do not get any others books by this author! I don't like her writing style.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shelby *trains flying monkeys*

    I enjoyed this book. Marvelle's character reminded me so much of my grandmother.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Wilma Eichler

    Loved this book! Many insightful statements throughout.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lesley

    enjoyable southern chic-lit book! I think most that like a good fun family inspired drama set in south will enjoy this!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    In this local color novel about a family of women in North Carolina, readers watch the cross of generations as the characters grow and develop, even bloom. In fact, the characters almost live and breathe and walk off the page. One woman loses her job but gains a better perspective and acceptance of life. The pregnant out-of-wedlock daughter becomes the caretaker of the grandmother suffering from dementia, while the unmarried aunt learns to love herself. Even the men surrounding these strong wome In this local color novel about a family of women in North Carolina, readers watch the cross of generations as the characters grow and develop, even bloom. In fact, the characters almost live and breathe and walk off the page. One woman loses her job but gains a better perspective and acceptance of life. The pregnant out-of-wedlock daughter becomes the caretaker of the grandmother suffering from dementia, while the unmarried aunt learns to love herself. Even the men surrounding these strong women seem flesh and blood and agree that they'll never understand women (wise men!). In addition to the characters (the plot was predictable), the author's command of mountain dialect and the homespun wisdom are the threads that make the novel feel worthy of the reader's time and create an impression. The following passages were especially poignant. "Sometimes people have said to me, Marvelle, have you had a good life? Well first off I'd tell them, honey, it ain't over yet. And then I'd tell them you can't go putting a whole life in one drawer, good or bad. They's a whole chest full of drawers and all kinds of things in there, little scraps of happiness, wads of sorrow, every now and then a whole bolt of joy. You can't look at the place where that's stored up and name it good or bad. They ain't no name for what it is, and that's as it should be. That's part of the mystery. . . . Before you know it, it's gone and all that's left here is what endures in them that traveled with you awhile, the ones left behind. You try to leave something to help them on their way, whether they think they need it or not. Chances are they won't till after you're gone. Then they'll be glad of it. They'll be glad and marvel at it and say, how'd she know, that crazy old woman? How did she know?" "Ashley, when your young'uns drives you crazy--and they will, they can't help it--just remember they're only little for what seems like a few weeks, then they're grown and gone and you ain't got nothing but memories of their sweetness to hold on to when they don't need you no more. Even if you only get a minute of that sweetness a day that's what you'll take with you .... In this life, honey, seems like they's just enough sweet to get you through." "You don't get tested just one time and that's it . . . . You get tested over and over again, and it's true what they say about what don't kill you only makes you stronger. But being strong don't mean you don't hurt."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rita Mahan

    A beautifully written book! The Moon women are three generations of women living in the hills of North Carolina. Marvelle is 82 and suffering from dementia, her daughter Cassandra is 42, overweight and never found herself in life. She has been caring for Mama as well as running a day care. Ruth Ann has been working in a mill for almost 30 years and has a 19 year old daughter who ran away and was placed in rehab. Ashley gets out of rehab pregnant and has to live with Ruth Ann. Cassandra cannot ta A beautifully written book! The Moon women are three generations of women living in the hills of North Carolina. Marvelle is 82 and suffering from dementia, her daughter Cassandra is 42, overweight and never found herself in life. She has been caring for Mama as well as running a day care. Ruth Ann has been working in a mill for almost 30 years and has a 19 year old daughter who ran away and was placed in rehab. Ashley gets out of rehab pregnant and has to live with Ruth Ann. Cassandra cannot take being a caregiver to her mother and thinks Ashley can care for Grandma since she has no job. These two form an unlikely alliance but it is beautiful to see the love and care between them. Although they find it difficult at times these women love each other fiercely. I loved the unfolding of Grandma's memories of her life throughout the book which lead to a surprise at the end. There are husbands and brothers and men in this story and it is interesting how the women react to them. They are cheaters and scoundrels, put up with in order to raise children but definitely put in their place by these strong women.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bamboozlepig

    Started slow, continued slow, DNF'd it at the halfway point because I got tired of the hillbilly hick vernacular used in the writing. I can understand it being in the characters' dialogue because the story is set in a backwoods town in the south, but there's no need to make the non-dialogue parts hillbilly hickish as well. I get wanting to remain authentic through the storyline. But the bad phrasing and grammar just gets annoying after awhile. Especially if the storyline itself is moving as slow Started slow, continued slow, DNF'd it at the halfway point because I got tired of the hillbilly hick vernacular used in the writing. I can understand it being in the characters' dialogue because the story is set in a backwoods town in the south, but there's no need to make the non-dialogue parts hillbilly hickish as well. I get wanting to remain authentic through the storyline. But the bad phrasing and grammar just gets annoying after awhile. Especially if the storyline itself is moving as slow as molasses in January (my own "hick" saying). There was also a lot of head-hopping going on and there were italicized bits at the ends of chapters at times that were from Marvella's first person POV. It made for a rather scattered mess. Weird thing is, I read Duncan's "Plant Life" a few years ago and enjoyed it. This one? Not so much.

  17. 4 out of 5

    LyndaIn Oregon

    Reminiscent of Karen Spears Zacharias' work, this novel deals with three-going-on-four generations of women in a small North Carolina town, dealing with the changes in their lives, and with the things that don't change. Ruth Ann Pratt is reasonably happy, alone in the neat little house salvaged from her divorce from the philandering A.J. Her mama Marvelle, and younger sister Cassandra live just down the road in an uneasy truce made wobblier by Marvelle's tendency to come unmoored in time and wand Reminiscent of Karen Spears Zacharias' work, this novel deals with three-going-on-four generations of women in a small North Carolina town, dealing with the changes in their lives, and with the things that don't change. Ruth Ann Pratt is reasonably happy, alone in the neat little house salvaged from her divorce from the philandering A.J. Her mama Marvelle, and younger sister Cassandra live just down the road in an uneasy truce made wobblier by Marvelle's tendency to come unmoored in time and wander off. When Ruth Ann's wild daughter, Ashley, returns home from rehab pregnant and moves back in, things begin to change rapidly.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pegodwyer

    Unusual I didn't expect to enjoy this story the way that I did. The grammar and the way the words sometimes ran together took some getting used to. But the further I read and the more the characters developed I realized it couldn't be written differently and been as good a read. I highly recommend this.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tammy Roberson

    Multi generational Moon women I greatly enjoyed this book. I liked the southern dialect writing style, but was distracted by the editing mistakes i(run on words) that occur frequently toward the end of the book. The characters grow as the book progresses and were very believable. I would recommend this book for book clubs.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Betty Ann Burban

    Compassionate look into the lives of four North Carolina women. Love and family and the never ending struggle to keep enduring through hardship and heartache the insight into life in North Carolina thru several decades of change and economic upheaval

  21. 4 out of 5

    Patti

    I loved this book so much that I dragged it out for two years. Lol. I truly did not want it to end. I feel as though I am saying goodbye to precious friends today as I close the cover and put it on my shelf.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    the book grew on me as it progrsses

  23. 4 out of 5

    Becky Reynolds

    I liked this book much more than I thought when I started. I loved the characters.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Karen K. Amidon

    Genuine Ruth Ann, Cassandra, Ashley and Marvelle speak with some of the truest female voices I have "heard" in a long time. I loved this book and highly recommend it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tammy L. Noble

    Wonderful Book So glad I decided to get this book. I just loved the story & the characters. Ready for the next book!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Sweet but very slow. Took quite awhile to read as it didn't captivate me.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Bledsoe

    Family! This book is about family. Mostly the women in the maternal line. I identified with a few of the characters and thoroughly enjoyed this book!!!!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Susan Reeves deMasi

    #Recommended Not very exciting plot-wise, but an entertaining read about several generations of an Appalachian family with richly-drawn characters.

  29. 5 out of 5

    JG (The Introverted Reader)

    Three generations of Moon women living in a small North Carolina town are trying to do the best they can in life. Grandmother Marvelle is trying to hang around long enough to pass on what she's learned to the next generation. Her wisdom is hard-earned and she knows the youngsters need it. Her daughters Ruth Ann and Cassandra are trying to figure out if the lives they are living are the lives they want. Ruth Ann's daughter Ashley is young but she's already old in experience. As the book opens, Ru Three generations of Moon women living in a small North Carolina town are trying to do the best they can in life. Grandmother Marvelle is trying to hang around long enough to pass on what she's learned to the next generation. Her wisdom is hard-earned and she knows the youngsters need it. Her daughters Ruth Ann and Cassandra are trying to figure out if the lives they are living are the lives they want. Ruth Ann's daughter Ashley is young but she's already old in experience. As the book opens, Ruth Ann is driving to Asheville to pick Ashley up from the rehab center where she's been staying. Ashley will be living with her now that she's been discharged. When they get back to their little town, Ashley drops the news that she's pregnant and Marvelle announces that she's moving in as well. Life is about to get interesting. I loved this book. I met author Pamela Duncan at a book festival a few years ago and just chattered away at her. I never do that. I'm usually all tongue-tied at author signings and rarely get out more than "Please" and "Thank you." But it just felt like she was one of my kind of people and so I rattled on while she graciously listened. This family of women felt like my family. We have a lot of women too and we love each other, irritate each other, get in each other's business, and cheer each other on. That's how these Moon women were. The story rotates between the four characters (Cassandra's part is small but she has a voice) and there was never a time when I wished I could get back to another storyline; I enjoyed them all. Each character is facing challenges that we can all relate to. I will admit that I wanted to reach in the pages and shake Ashley. "Will *shake* you *shake* PLEASE *vigorous shake* just *shake* wake *shake* up *shake* and *shake* let *shake* that *shake* sweet *shake* boy *shake* love *shake* you?!?!?" *tooth-rattling shake* I feel better for having written it out. She was stubborn beyond all reason. Poor Cassandra. I wasn't entirely happy with her story, but there's a glimmer of hope for her. I'll have to dive into The Big Beautiful soon to see how she ends up. For a book about strong women and their ties to each other, pick this one up. Is there higher praise than "These characters felt like my family?" I don't think so.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aimee Massey

    I usually avoid books whose description says something like "three generations of Southern women." Through unhappy experience I've learned to expect three rich, leisurely ladies sitting around eating fancy fixin's and plotting how best to get up in each other's business, while the obligatory black maid/cook/best friend weighs in with pithy comments and is often and self-consciously on the author's part the only person with sense enough to bail the ladies of leisure out of whatever allegedly comi I usually avoid books whose description says something like "three generations of Southern women." Through unhappy experience I've learned to expect three rich, leisurely ladies sitting around eating fancy fixin's and plotting how best to get up in each other's business, while the obligatory black maid/cook/best friend weighs in with pithy comments and is often and self-consciously on the author's part the only person with sense enough to bail the ladies of leisure out of whatever allegedly comical mess they've gotten themselves into. But I took a chance on "Moon Women" and boy, was I glad. The women of the title, Marvelle Moon, her daughters Ruth Ann and Cassandra, and Ruth Ann's daughter Ashley, are firmly working-class and, to me, entirely recognizable. The story begins in 1992 in rural North Carolina, as Ashley, Ruth Ann's youngest, is coming home from rehab. She's been something of a wild child all her life and neither she nor her mother are entirely confident that this move back home is a good idea. Ashley is pregnant by her boyfriend Keith, whom she met in rehab, but she isn't sure she can trust him to stick around and be a father, though it's clear as the story develops that that is Keith's deepest desire. Ruth Ann is newly divorced but her philandering-but-charming ex-husband A.J. has found the single life lonely and not to his liking, and he hopes to get another chance with Ruth Ann. Cassandra, massively obese and lonely, has given up her office job at the knitting mill to open a home day-care, mainly so she can look after Marvell, who at 82 is beginning to slip into dementia and is prone to wander. Everyone has a lot of adjusting to do: Ruth Ann to having Ashley back at home, Ashley to earning her family's trust back and to her own impending motherhood, and Marvelle to no longer being in charge of her own and her family's lives. The entire book is written in Appalachian dialect, but I didn't find this a problem; people where I live don't sound all that much different so it was nothing new to me. The characters are well-developed and I felt like I had always known them. The ending of the book was a bit predictable, but not so much that it knocked off a star. And yes, there is a Big Family Secret that's revealed ... but only to the reader! Which is an interesting twist on the way such secrets are usually handled in books.

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