The grace and lyricism of Conn’s prose stuns and sustains the reader through this lush tale of women’s strength, creativity, and will to love in bleak, Depression-era Eastern Kentucky. Conn’s poise and confidence as a storyteller holds the reader in loving embrace through many a well-wrought and gut-wrenching episode, and brings us out the other side more awake to the preciousness of life and what it means to be accountable to one another across a span of generations. Bobi Conn’s A Woman In Time is an inspiration.Robert Gipe, author of Pop: An Illustrated Novel
Excerpt from A Woman in Time
After she got the children to bed, Rosalee sat in a rocking chair on the porch and listened to the spring peepers out at the farm pond. Their song spread as a chorus through the night sky, calls echoed and affirmed in a primordial story of creation. They sang of the coming rain and of salvation blooming, of the sweet, damp earth and her endless affection. The moon rose high and bright, and the air settled onto Rosalee’s arms. Along the damp and quiet winds, the love-drunk frogs heard Rosalee’s unsung lamentation, and trilled a lonesome hymn just for her.
My Review of A Woman in Time
I can’t recall the last time I picked up a historical novel or a literary fiction novel. They are the kind of thing I really need to be in a certain mood to seek out on my own, but when Bobi Conn’s novel came across my radar, I must have been in that very specific mood. And I’m very glad I was because I enjoyed this quite a bit.
Conn weaves a tale of women finding their strength at a time where they felt like they had none. Her characters were realer than real—I felt their struggles, fears, anger, joy—all of it. Even the “bad guys” offered me moments where I just felt sorry because they were thrust into lives and worlds they weren’t prepared for. They did some truly terrible things and I’m not absolving them of any of it, but this book definitely touches on how life doesn’t always go the way we planned. Everyone reacts to that in a different way. I hoped for the people who felt burdened by their roles in life. I pitied people who refused to try. I raged at people who took out their lack of understanding on others. The human condition really shines in this book.
I had a connection to Rosalee that other readers may not have, but I’ll mention it anyway. Through much of the book, Rosalee grapples with the constraints of motherhood, both as she prepares to become a mother and after she has children. As someone who, for as long as I can remember, never wanted kids of my own, this felt very genuine. Parenthood, much like college or a long-term relationship with one person, is not for everyone. Years ago, I might have felt intimidated to admit I didn’t want kids, didn’t want to have the responsibility of being a parent, wanted the freedom to do what I wanted without having to be concerned with raising children. Thanks to characters like Rosalee, I feel very comfortable saying that, no, I never wanted kids, and that doesn’t make me selfish or unwilling to grow up or any “less of a woman.” It is what it is, and I appreciated finding that part of myself in this character.
I couldn’t quite tell if there was a bit of magical realism baked into this or if it was just meant to be symbolism. Either way, the feminine power of it worked very well. I can whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone wanting a story rooted in history and that makes you think. I would definitely read more from Conn and look forward to future books.
About Bobi Conn
Bobi Conn was born in Morehead, Kentucky, and raised in a nearby holler, where she developed a deep connection with the land and her Appalachian roots. She obtained her bachelor’s degree at Berea College, the first school in the American South to integrate racially and to teach men and women in the same classrooms. After struggling as a single mother, she worked multiple part-time jobs at once to support her son and to attend graduate school, where she earned a master’s degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing. In addition to writing, Bobi loves playing pool, cooking, being in the woods, attempting to grow a garden, and spending time with her incredible children.