Loving the Dead and Gone

Judith Turner-Yamamoto

Regal House


Donald Ray Spencer dies in a car accident on a summer’s day in the early 1960s, a few days short of his first wedding anniversary. The small North Carolina town of Gold Ridge is touched by the tragic death of one so young, not least the families of those directly involved. Donald Ray’s spunky seventeen year-old widow Darlene faces a life without the man she loved and struggles to regain some semblance of normality. Clayton Bishop found Donald Ray’s bodyEmotionally adrift, what begins as his sense of obligation to Darlene becomes something much more intimate as Darlene reaches out to Clayton for comfort.

The tale of tragedy, love, and loss is truly one for the ages.

This does not sit well with Clayton’s wife Berta Mae. When her mother, Aurilla Cutter, learns of the affair it stirs up long-buried secrets from her own past. Her marriage to the cold and brutal Joe Cutter left scars seemingly too deep to heal, yet what threatens to destroy relationships between two generations turns into a means of bridging the gap between the old and new. Where once people found Aurilla tough, cold and mean-spirited, they find instead a vulnerable woman with a genuine need for sympathyDarlene’s determination to move past her grief interweaves with the lives of those around her, offering a way to achieve redemption and the strength to go on living.

Turner-Yamamoto’s deft characterization and the authentic rural American setting makes Loving the Dead and Gone something special. The tale of tragedy, love, and loss is truly one for the ages.

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