Frankie Silver, Your Ballad Was Sad.

Ballad of Frankie Silver

Title : The Ballad of Frankie Silver

Author : Sharyn McCrumb

Rating : 3 of 5 Stars

The endearing part of this book was Frankie Silver’s plight. She was a real person, convicted of murdering her husband, had a rather botched up court trial that no lawyer wanted to take on for fear of damaging their esteemed reputation and the people of Tennessee lawfully hung a woman.

This was an era when family name and association to those who hold court in high society was the prevailing nature. After all Frankie Silver was a mountain dwelling lass who had no such family name repute to her benefit. This was 1833 -  they doomed her defense from the start.

Anyway, Shayrn McCrumb (author) was, in a long entwined way, connected to this 19th century murderer. Thus, she was sort of re-telling her ancestor’s tragic story per se – with an added fictional and seemingly parallel relation to a modern-day crime and punishment agenda.

The related fiction story itself was not all that bad. The idea was good but I felt McCrumb made light weight of it to her detriment.

The excellent parts were still in the heart of Frankie Silver’s story. It was well written here and McCrumb shows much knowledge of law procedures of that era. Like I said, the endearing side of the book was Frankie Silver’s murder case and the people involved with that. You can feel the desperation and concerns experienced by the characters in the narration. McCrumb did a sterling job with this no doubt.

However, the fictional element, where McCrumb had sheriff Arrowood seek explanations to Frankie’s murder conviction and her eventual execution, which happened 150 years ago, was perplexing. It was perplexing because Arrowood saw similarities to Silver’s case with the one he helped solve 20 years before. One which saw Fate Harkryder convicted and sentenced to death. I’d have preferred that McCrumb kept the book about Frankie Silver and nobody else. The electric chair execution of Fate Harkryder was an anti-climax and unnecessary.

And she also abruptly concluded the ongoing 3rd mountain trail murder that was developing in this book. I can’t remember who it was that they arrested now. That’s how rapidly the book ended with the last pages dedicated by McCrumb to her Frankie Silver connection and those who helped her in her research.

In entirety, apart from the good prose and narrating style of Sharyn McCrumb, Ballad of Frankie Silver fell short in all other aspects for a memorable book. I enjoyed it in bit parts only.

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About Joe Praba

Retail Ops Specialist; Procedures Manual Writer; Compulsive Reader; Metal Music Maniac; Supports Tottenham Hotspur and Rafael Nadal.

4 responses to “Frankie Silver, Your Ballad Was Sad.”

  1. Thomas Evans says :

    A good, thoughtful critique, giving me a sense of the story without any spoilers. You note the storylines somewhat shadow eachother, are they actually intertiwned (ala Possession), or does one simply mirror the others?

    • Thomas Evans says :

      Oh wait… I just reread your review and realized that the two are clearly intertwined. Serves me right for reading something before I’ve had my second cup of coffee.

      • Joe Praba says :

        Glad you liked my review of The Ballad, Thomas. It was a good story and was well written by McCrumb but she didn’t do so well for the whole. Let me know what you think of it after you’ve read it. Cheers.

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