...a riveting and instructive read ... Hamilton is a natural-born storyteller, and her narrative never lags. She also has a sense for the telling detail ... [some] stories are unsettling, but they are part of the historical record. Hamilton’s first-person accounts are important testimonials about what used to be.
There’s nothing fine about the writing, nor provocative about her thoughts. But Hamilton’s matter-of-factness wins you over almost immediately, and unexpectedly. She can tell a story — carving fields from a wilderness of cane and snakes, living among panthers and wild hogs, losing children to death, and all with a husband who has a secret that remains just out of reach ... Most remarkably, this book somehow enables a reader not to feel abject guilt at complaining about the temperature of their latte, but only a genuine gratefulness and admiration for those who went before.
...despite her stoic cheerfulness, Mary is a blunt and candid narrator, especially when it comes to the relationship at the heart of the book: her complicated marriage to Frank Hamilton ... it's impossible not to root for this woman, who went years without seeing other women or children, and confronted their deaths, as she confronted everything else, alone.