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A Novel

Jane Roberts Wood

Publication Year: 2009

In the east Texas town of Cold Springs in 1944, the community waits for the war to end. In this place where certain boundaries are not crossed and in a time when people reveal little about themselves, their problems, and their passions, Jane Roberts Wood exposes the heart of each of four families during the last year of World War II. Bound together by neighborhood and Southern customs, yet separated by class, money, and family, they are an unforgettable lot, vibrantly brought to life in this “delightfully perceptive and unabashedly romantic” novel (Sanford Herald). As the war grinds to an end, it becomes the catalyst that drives the inhabitants of Cold Springs across the boundaries that had once divided them, taking them to places both chaotic and astonishing. “A rare novel: intelligent, lyrical, devoid of coyness and manipulative plot turns—a book for old and young.”—Austin American-Statesman

Published by: University of North Texas Press

Series: Evelyn Oppenheimer Series

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Author's Note

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pp. iii-ix

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pp. xi-xiv

Cold Springs is an East Texas town of forty thousand inhabitants or so. It was named by the earliest settlers, long before the Civil War, who, when they saw the lake and found the spring that fed it, rested under oak and linden trees in full leaf, and marveled at the greenness, at everything surgent with spring, said: “Here. Here is...

Part One

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pp. 1

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Chapter One

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pp. 3-15

Grace Gillian kneels before her hyacinth bed, her bare fingers raking the accumulation of decaying leaves from around the plants. She has long since shucked off her gardening gloves. She loves the feel of the earth’s awakening, the humid, fertile smell of it. Grace is thirty-eight years old. Slender. High cheekbones...

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Chapter Two

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pp. 16-32

Robert Alexander Moore V, called Cinco by his friends and Bobby by his family, sits on the back steps of his house. Bobby is seventeen and, even with a lazy eye, can see well enough. He is planning to run away and join the navy. And another thing: He is planning to ask Dixie Balderidge to the Silver Key Gypsy Dance...

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Chapter Three

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pp. 33-47

When Bobby has the wreck, he is thinking about heroes. The paper has been full of heroes. Yesterday there was a story about a corporal who outwitted a Jap battalion by cutting their telephone wires. Another was about Emery Taylor, Bill Taylor’s cousin, who bailed out of a Mustang at six thousand feet and knocked himself...

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Chapter Four

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pp. 48-65

Grace Gillian has just come from her Saturday tennis game. Amelia had fallen, trying to return Grace’s serve, and Grace had gone home with her and seen her inside to be sure no bones were broken. Grace volleys very well, but ordinarily she does not serve well. But this morning she had; the perfectly placed balls had zinged...

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Chapter Five

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pp. 66-88

Grace Gillian stops her car in front of her house and gets out to pick up a sodden piece of newspaper, a bit of tinfoil, too small for recycling, and a Pepsi bottle before she pulls into the driveway. Inside the house, she puts a stack of English papers, her jacket and her purse on the stairs and walks down the wide hallway to look out into the backyard. Bobby...

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Chapter Six

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pp. 89-101

Watching for Dixie between classes, Bobby sees nothing else. When she appears, he walks with her down the hall. “Kiss me once and kiss me twice and kiss me once again,” he whistles softly, although he’s never kissed her. Not on her lips. Not one time. Although she lets him kiss her neck, and she lets him touch her...

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Chapter Seven

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pp. 102-128

Grace and Amelia have decided to spend the day together because Grace will leave for New York the following day. After lunch they go to an early movie. Grace wants to see Mr. Skeffington with Bette Davis, but Amelia has seen it. They decide to see Snow White, smiling at the idea of grown women choosing a children’s movie....

Part Two

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pp. 129

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Chapter Eight

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pp. 131-141

Husbands. Sons. Fathers. Lovers. Dead on the beaches of Normandy. All through summer the telegrams have come to Cold Springs. The first, Captain Newton, forty-five years old, married, a father of two children. A month later, young Frank Conroy, dead a month short of his eighteenth birthday. And now, the first day...

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Chapter Nine

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pp. 142-156

“I can’t keep good help anymore,” his father says at the dinner table that night. “Barbara, you’re lucky. Willie B. has been with us, let’s see, about eight months now, and I’ve had five cleaning girls at the store during those eight months.” He says it like Willie B.’s not there, right at his elbow, with a...

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Chapter Ten

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pp. 157-165

Winter has come early. Unbelievably, a light snow on Thanksgiving Day. The sound of Robert’s car has brought the Little Brontës out to the front steps, where they stand shivering with the cold and their anxiety over this first Thanksgiving without Robert’s wife. Three days getting ready. First, Emily had set Ruth (who has...

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Chapter Eleven

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pp. 166-175

When Bobby gets back from Schuster’s, he drinks a cup of hot chocolate to get warm, but it makes him feel like throwing up. To get away from Willie B.’s sharp eyes, he decides to walk over to the aunts’ house and deliver Celia’s letter. With the sun going down, it’s getting colder, so Bobby puts on his heaviest jacket over his...

Part Three

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pp. 177

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Chapter Twelve

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pp. 179-192

On a cold March day, but bright with sunshine, Grace Gillian, hurrying down to get the mail, is there before Mr. Bartlett can drop it into the mailbox. Mr. Bartlett thinks Mrs. Gillian is getting to be downright pretty, you might even say beautiful. When Mr. Bartlett first saw her hair, cut short and curly, well, by gosh, he...

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Chapter Thirteen

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pp. 193-201

Grace sits on her gallery to read the letter from John. And the two she has received from Dan Manning. The air is full of the scent of wild plum blossoms and the sound of a mockingbird perched in the topmost branch of the live oak. John’s letter is filled with his concern for her. He urges her to continue doing the things she...

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Chapter Fourteen

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pp. 202-211

Like wildfire, the news had spread. The boys have redeemed themselves. At least, they have begun their redemption. On April 12, the day President Roosevelt died, four of them had joined the marines. They had driven to Shreveport or, some said, Oklahoma City to join. They would soon be in uniform and fighting in the...

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Chapter Fifteen

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pp. 212-219

All week the town of Cold Springs has been breathless with anticipation. The war in Europe will soon be over. It’s just a matter of time now. Days, maybe. Certain their sons will be coming home from Europe (at least for a long leave), farmers cheerfully work sunup to sundown to get the cotton thinned, the beans...

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Chapter Sixteen

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pp. 220-223

The Cold Springs High School Band, assembled at East Third and Broad Street, is about to march. A whistle blows. Lines form. Excitement and energy crackle through the sunshine. The drum major blows his whistle, and to the first notes of Sousa’s “Washington Post March,” he steps out! His baton glitters in the sun; he...

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pp. 224-225

Four months later the War was over, and everything was different. Soldiers came home and fell in love all over again with wives and sweethearts. Soldiers came home and found they were no longer in love with women who had become strangers. Under the GI Bill the soldiers went to college, left the farms and sawmills and...

E-ISBN-13: 9781574413625
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574412789

Page Count: 246
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Evelyn Oppenheimer Series