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The Sky Club by Terry Roberts

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In February of 1929, Jo Salter’s mother died of measles at the age of 58 in their Madison County, North Carolina, home in Upper Big Pine Valley. Before she died, she insisted that Jo not stay on their precarious hardscrabble farm with her father and the two brothers than remained of her six siblings. So, she moved into Asheville to live with an aunt and uncle. There she got a job at a bank, but the depression caused it to fail. While working there, she had enjoyed a few escapades up at the Sky Club, a notorious speakeasy and jazz club located in the mountains just above Asheville. When she lost her job, he was welcomed as a new employee at Sky Club, and there she became involved with Levi Arrowood, Sky Club’s mysterious manager. “Ever since Terry Roberts took up writing about his ancestors in Western North Carolina, he has produced a remarkably varied and valuable shelf of novels . . . but The Sky Club is the best one yet! Wildly original, this is a truly Appalachian novel all about money, sex, drinking, and the Great Depression . . . along with the more familiar themes of place and family. I especially admire the apparent ease with which Roberts has created the tough, true, funny, and unforgettable Jo Salter, an independent pistol of a woman who tells this lively tale set in a speakeasy on top of a mountain.” —Lee Smith. “The Sky Club is a wagonload of perilous fun. Terry Roberts has engaged, with customary vigor, many of his favorite themes: local Appalachian history, mountain cultures rural and urban, personal and communal courage, individuality. The resulting story is sprightly and steady in the manner of its heroine, the gifted Jo Salter. Every page here shines with truthful surprise. Bravo!” —Fred Chappell. “Fans of historical and American Southern fiction will breeze through this action-packed, fast-paced novel.” —Library Journal. The ancestors of the author, Terry Roberts, have remained in the Western North Carolina Mountains since the 1700s. This is his fifth novel portraying that region. He is the director of the Paideia Center and lives in Asheville.

Nashville, Tennessee: Keylight/Turner Publishing, 2022. 417 pages. Trade paperback.