After Rick Bass spoke with Maxine Brown of the chart topping Browns of the 50’s and early 60’s, he decided to write a novel about the Browns.

The novel centers on Maxine, the oldest sister of the Browns but also includes her sister Bonnie and Brother, Jim Ed. The Browns grew up in the swamps of Arkansas during the Great Depression. Their father had a saw mill that they helped with when there was enough money to keep it going and when their father was sober enough.
The secret to his lumber’s quality lay in his children’s ability to discern pitch. At the end of almost every lunch break, the Brown children would be summoned to the saw-sharpening table, where the newly honed blade would be placed on an axle with a motor and then spun rapidly, as if being made ready for a cut. The sound they listened for – the perfect blade – held an eerie resonance, the faint sirenlike echo of a high harmonic that was little different from the tempered harmony the Browns were already learning to achieve with their voices.
Maxine sneaks a recording of Jim Ed singing to a radio station, where it aired and the rest was history. Not a real glamorous history mind you. After one of their shows, Fabor Robinson presents them with a contract to make the famous. He did that to a point, but kept almost all of the money they generated. There was nothing they could do about it.
Eventually they got out of the shady contract and teamed up with Chet Atkins, who became their producer and they became quite famous. Their entire family was friends with Elvis Presley and Bonnie and Elvis dated for a time.
If my review sounds a little flat, that is because I found the book to me flat. It had a repetitive edge to it that is hard to explain. It read more like a biography then a novel as there was no dialogue to speak of. With only 250 pages, there were times I felt like giving up on the book completely.  This could have been a real true tribute to the Browns.
I have heard so many good things about Rick Bass and there were some pearls in his writing, just not enough to hold this reader’s interest.
Thanks to Lissa Renner of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for this book.
Have you reviewed this book? Please leave a link to your review in the comments.

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