Meredith Sue Willis is one of the true treasures of Appalachian Literature. Her writing career got off to a terrific start with three novels from major New York publishers, A Space Apart (1979), Higher Ground (1981) and Only Great Changes (1985). Her four subsequent novels, her four short story collections, her four youth novels, and her four books about the writing process as well as reprints of her first three novels have found publishers she wants to help and that she just likes. A native of Shinnston, West Virginia, where her father was a local businessman and her mother a teacher, Willis knows and respects our region well. She married a physician and has lived her adult life in Metropolitan New York City, where she is active in an organization devoted to preserving neighborhood diversity, so she has a very cosmopolitan outlook. That shows in this book which follows three childhood friends into adulthood where they follow very different paths, from a survivalist to a fundamentalist preacher’s wife, to physician’s wife. “With deep sympathy for her characters, Willis writes in lucid and compelling prose about one of the dark undersides of American life. Their Houses reads fast, as a compelling series of mysteries, and reminds us of how much legacy we all carry, not only in our bodies and our genes but in our stories.” - Jane Lazarre, “Every move in this jolt-filled tale—told in the sweet, slyly humorous cadences of West Virginia—is perfect. Willis has the stuff from beginning to end.” - Diane Simmons. “Full of surprising twists and turns, this sharp, tough-minded, compelling novel takes us deeply into its high-low milieus and conflicted characters. . . . it’s a terrific read.” - Phillip Lopate.
Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2018. 245 pages with Reading and Discussion Questions. Trade paperback