Azalea "Knot" Centre is determined to live life as she pleases. Let the people of West Mills say what they will; the neighbors' gossip won't keep Knot from what she loves best: cheap moonshine, nineteenth-century literature, and the company of men. And yet, Knot is starting to learn that her freedom comes at a high price. Knot turns to her neighbor, Otis Lee Loving, in search of some semblance of family and home. But while he’s busy trying to fix Knot’s life, Otis Lee finds himself powerless to repair the many troubles within his own family, as the long-buried secrets of his troubled past begin to come to light.
Characters deal with inflamed emotions, gender and race roles, sexual preferences, addiction and children born out of wedlock—the stuff of the soap operas Knot and friends watch every day on their new televisions. What distinguishes West Mills’ melodrama from episodic TV, however, is the real-life, unglamorous attitudes of ordinary people. Amid their squabbles, they work hard as farmers, cleaners, midwives, teachers and musicians. They eschew happy endings but stick with each other despite their differences. In West Mills exemplifies the timeless adage that it takes a village to raise one another. This is a historical fiction triumph.
...a fierce, memorable antiheroine ... Winslow is a natural storyteller whose writing is like a mash-up of Zora Neale Hurston and Edward Kelsey Moore, and his characters spark to life, especially Knot, who Winslow magically makes both enraging and endearing. Although at times entire years are glossed over in this short novel, its humor and heart will win over many readers.
...a tender, exuberant, and impressively crafted debut novel ... through more than 40 years of ups and downs, Knot and Otis Lee’s story makes you feel the enduring grace and potential redemption to be found in even the unlikeliest of extended families. Winslow's heroine isn't easy to like. But over time, she reaches into your heart and touches it deeply. So does this book.