Bandeaux Creek is the sequel to Between the Rivers, Carolyn Rawls Booth’s down-home saga of the McBryde family of Bladen Country, North Carolina. This installment follows the family from 1924-1931, from farming rural North Carolina bottom land to white collar jobs in the big city of Wilmington. Ms. Booth uses a deft hand to weave historical context into her sprawling family history. For example, a character, who has been described as particularly stylish, pauses to adjust her coat collar to hang a short way down her back before leaving. This quickly evokes a Gatsby-esque flapper with the classic droopy-collared coat—all without losing pace or tension in the scene.
Although I enjoyed my visit with the McBrydes, I felt at a significant disadvantage having not read the first book. Apparently thinking reintroducing characters in detail would be tedious for her returning readers, Booth has instead opted for quick one-liners—“Everything else reminded Len that he was just a country hick from Colly, North Carolina, who’d come to Boston to find his mama.” Len’s mama, Maggie Lorena, was apparently the main character in the first book but had been mentioned only once in the first 70 pages of Bandeaux Creek. This sudden change of storyline away from the McBrydes (Maggie Lorena is a distant cousin) threw me for a loop. A family tree in the frontispiece would have been a great help.
Booth’s story is an imaginative retelling of her own family history, and her love for each of the characters is palpable on every page. Fans of the Southern family saga will love Bandeaux Creek, though I recommend reading Between the Rivers first.