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Out the Summerhill Road

A Novel

Jane Roberts Wood

Publication Year: 2010

From Jane Roberts Wood comes a quietly riveting novel revealing the banal faces of evil in a small East Texas town. In 1946 a young couple is brutally murdered in Cold Springs. And, now, thirty-four years later, the rumor is that Jackson Morris, who had been the only person of interest in the murders, has come home. Or has he? When the four women of the Tuesday bridge club hear this rumor, their responses range from a reckless excitement to a shaky uneasiness. There’s Isabel, compelling and passionate, who foolishly and inexplicably longs to see Jackson, her first love, again while the seemingly innocent Mary Martha prays that the sheriff will put Jackson’s head in a noose. Although the eternally optimistic Sarah looks to the law to determine Jackson’s fate, the fourth woman, an Irish immigrant and a misfit in Cold Springs, is guided by the spirit world, including a cat, in deciding his guilt or innocence. When a second murder occurs after Jackson’s return, Cold Springs reacts with fear and paranoia while the women struggle to protect their friend’s reputation and desperately try to find a murderer.

Published by: University of North Texas Press

Series: Evelyn Oppenheimer Series

Title Page, Copyright

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Part 1 • Girls in White Dresses

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Girls in White Dresses

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pp. 2-19

It was horrible! Just horrible! Rosemary Winslow murdered! Her body found in the Park the night, the very night, of Sarah’s slumber party! Rosemary Winslow. A nice girl. Who could believe it? Not her best friends who waited until three in the morning before they woke up Sarah’s parents to tell...

Part 2: 1980 • The Women of Cold Springs

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The Bridge Club

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pp. 22-28

Like the swampy estuaries of Red River, rumors encircle the town and then the very word—Jackson Jackson Jackson—rises above the willows and swamp magnolias and bois d’ arc trees along Red River, to threaten the peace-loving citizens of the town of Cold Springs. When the body of a woman who...

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Mary Martha

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pp. 29-64

On Tuesday morning Mary Martha is awakened earlier than usual by the noisy coupling of alley cats. When she looks out her window, the cats are nowhere in sight, but she notices the unseasonable fog drifting through her azaleas and down into the dry creek bed that runs alongside her bedroom windows...

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Aunt Bossie’s Funeral

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pp. 65-70

Rumors like wildfires! When one dies down, another more outlandish than the one before, flares up. Jackson Morris has returned and bought a farm. Jackson has not returned, but is planning to return. Jackson came back, stayed at the farm a few days and flew off in a little red prop plane, just took off...

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Sarah’s Troubles

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pp. 71-78

When Sarah, holding a cup of coffee, opens her bedroom door and steps out into the fresh morning air—the scented air as heady as wine—she decides that even at her age, especially at her age, life is mighty intoxicating. Wearing a long cotton gown, she stands on her small terrace looking over the...

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pp. 79-86

Betsy smiles, and the smile deepens the wrinkles around her mouth and at the corners of her eyes. But the dazed vacancy she had worn on her face after her son’s death is gone. Her gray hair has been cut short, but not as short as Gaynor’s, and “touched-up” so that it is now ash-blond. Today she is...

Part 3: The ’60s • The Cold Springs Revolutions

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The ’60s

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pp. 88-89

Years later the women would talk about the sixties in Dickensian terms. The worst of times. One horror after another. President Kennedy assassinated. Oh how the country loved him! His bright mind. His humor. The lyrical speeches. The elegance of Jackie. And just as the country was beginning to...

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Betsy’s House

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pp. 90-95

Betsy Rogers had built her house as a diversion after the death of her husband, the building of it overseen every step of the way by her son Timothy. The house, a small Georgian, befits old money. It has only two bedrooms (Betsy’s with its own sitting room), but it is elegant with its small, public...

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The Woman from Ireland

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pp. 96-111

When she said it, Timothy, satiated with love, was stretched out on their picnic blanket, almost dozing in the warmth of the mild Irish sun. He propped himself up on his elbows and grinned at her. “Girl, you jest,” he said. He put a hand on the back of her neck, and lying back down, he pulled her over on...

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Gaynor and Sarah

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pp. 112-118

Backing away from the curb, she saw the small, white house in the middle of a stand of great magnolias. Seen that way it looked fresh and clean, nestled among the dappled shade of the dark green leaves and with its dark green shutters against the white of the building. A sign, Library, was posted on a...

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Sarah’s Revolution

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pp. 119-126

Sarah emptied the pan under the kitchen sink and replaced it. Eddie was gone for good. So was her money. And her house was falling down. The foundation needed repairs. One could drop a marble on the floor of any room of the house, and it would roll. The roof leaked. There were leaks everywhere. A...

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Gaynor’s Revolution

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pp. 127-134

Betsy’s kitchen was full of sunshine. The light shone through embroidered curtains to make snowflake patterns on the floor. Betsy shifted her gaze from Gaynor’s face to the picture of a five-year-old Timothy playing with a litter of kittens...

Part 4: 1980 • The Murder

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A Person of Interest

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pp. 136-151

Here he is, a fifty-one-year-old man, driving toward Cold Springs, a town he left over thirty years ago. He will not arrive there before darkness falls. Even before he reaches Greenville, the sun has set behind him, leaving the eastern sky tinged with pinks and oranges and blues, delicate colors lightly reflecting...

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Finding Mary Martha

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pp. 152-160

The news is all over town. Everybody has heard it. Jackson Morris has come back home. Been back six months. A year. A few weeks. Who knows? Folks say Jackson has most likely been holed up somewhere, but this morning he came out of hiding and made three stops in Cold Springs. The first stop...

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I See the Moon

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pp. 161-168

By early afternoon of that same day, the news about Mary Martha’s murder is all over the town. In times of tragedy the people in Cold Springs have their cars washed. And vacuumed. Cars will be needed to pick up people at the airport and at the bus station. Two years ago Sarah had had to drive...

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pp. 169-183

Now the sheriff is meandering toward their table, his course indirect. But the goal is clear. He has them in his sight. He stops to speak to Loretta Davis, the blue-eyed, gray-headed manager of the Coffee Cup. Obviously in a hurry, Loretta nods briskly and hurries off to clear the table the sheriff has...

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The Funeral

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pp. 184-200

Victor tosses the newspapers onto Jackson’s step and, whistling, strolls toward the construction site. There’s not a cloud in the sky. Today will be a scorcher. But the framing is finished, and he’s hoping the weather will hold so they can finish the roofing by Friday. The shingles are on site, and they’re...

Part 5: 1980 • A Jury of Her Friends

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Isabel and Jackson

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pp. 202-212

After Gaynor had driven her home, Isabel walked into her house and opened the refrigerator. When had she eaten? She gazes at left-over chicken and a broccoli casserole, two over ripe tomatoes and a wilted head of lettuce. She takes a carton of strawberry yogurt from the freezer, dips out a...

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The Diary

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pp. 213-230

Isabel listens to the striking of the clock. The quarter hour. The half hour. The quarter hour again. Finally, the clock strikes seven. Good! It’s not too early to call. Well, yes, it is, she tells herself. It is too early. But they haven’t read the diary. If they had read the diary, they would want her to call! She is...

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Tribal Knowledge

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pp. 231-252

The women withdraw. From raw grief. From roller coaster emotions. From discussions that lead nowhere. They withdraw from each other. Clovis’s lawyer is on vacation and her real estate agent has not been interested in working up an appraisal. July will soon be over, but now, Cold Springs is...

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The Women and Theodore

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pp. 253-267

Sarah has stayed out of the garden all morning, although between coffee and showering and dressing, she has peered through the windows at the falling leaves. But she’ll not set foot in her garden today. Today, the women are meeting with the bank president. She intends to disclose her suspicions...

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pp. 268-284

As Gaynor waits she finds herself constantly seeking her lover’s presence. At the animal hospital, she assists as he examines and treats the animals, and she is by his side during surgery and there when he consoles clients whose animals are quite ill or, at times, about to undergo euthanasia. And in bed...

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The Women

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pp. 285-290

Two days before Thanksgiving, Sarah and Isabel reach Betsy’s house at the same time, and Gaynor, wearing her bright shawl, hurries them into Betsy’s sitting room. They stand in front of the fireplace warming their hands against the first hard freeze of the year...

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Miss Eyre

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pp. 291-292

Gaynor has wandered off along the creek. Glancing over her shoulder, she sees that Sarah has climbed out of the creek bed and begun to fold the wet newspapers into a cone for the plants. Turning, Gaynor begins to walk back toward the women. “Kitty, kitty, kitty,” she calls. She walks slowly, calling...

E-ISBN-13: 9781574413359
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574412994

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Evelyn Oppenheimer Series