Seek The Living

(2005)

(2005)

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Reading Ashley Warlick is like listening to the bluesy heartbreak of a country song. Set in the landscape of the new South, with its aging farms and low-rent strip malls, Seek the Living tells the story of a strong-minded young woman whose past catches up with her.
When Joan Patee's wayward brother, Denny, breaks one heart too many and takes a beating for it, their father sends Joan to set him straight. Since her mother's death, Joan has had to keep the peace between these two proud men. She yearns for the support of her husband, Marshall, whose job keeps him constantly on the road. His visits home are all too brief, filled with a passion made even more urgent by their desire to have a child.

Joan finds Denny worse off than she expected. After losing a string of odd jobs, he's tending an old churchyard and hiding out with an enigmatic new girlfriend. And he's onto a money-making scheme: he has discovered some artifacts in unmarked graves that may date to the Civil War, and he intends to profit from them, legally or otherwise. Joan turns for help to the only person she can think of, an old friend from their wild youth, the renegade Lewis, a man of great charm and dubious wealth. Through Denny and Lewis, Joan is drawn into a spiral of shady dealings and peculiar town secrets, some dangerously close to her heart. For years she has harbored the memory of a willful affair that ended tragically. As Denny unearths hidden graves, Joan unearths long-buried emotions that threaten to harm everyone she loves.

"Seek the Living is a deeply wise and sensual rumination on the hard secrets of love and family," writes novelist Stewart O'Nan. Ashley Warlick's compassionate voice, at turns brashly carnal and bittersweet, is, in the words of Gail Godwin, "an occasion for rejoicing."