Journey Proud: A Novel
In 1933, the quiet and gentle life of Baxton, a small rural town in Georgia, is disrupted when native son and world traveler, Jason Randolph, returns after an absence of eleven years. Mystery surrounds the simultaneous arrival of Josephine, an infamous beauty, who had visited Baxton only once before, eleven years earlier.
Spunky nine-year-old Sunny Leigh and her “worst” friend, Jimbo Byrd, observe the developing crises and become participants in the fast-moving events. Sunny’s parents, Allyson and David Leigh, play their parts in the drama on another level, as do the other inhabitants of this quintessential southern town. As they go about their Depression-era lives, they eventually uncover in one short summer the connection between events past and present.
Jason’s sister Fanny allows her intense hatred of Josephine to goad Fanny to an unspeakable act of destruction. In addition, Jason’s good intentions are destroyed by an unexpected disaster, the Leighs and their neighbors confront the Ku Klux Klan, and the whole town is affected by a mysterious death.
The surprise ending features Governor Eugene Talmadge, a real personage among otherwise fictitious characters. Integral to the story are Eldora and Willie Jackson, who have their own troubles to deal with, even as they become caught up in the town’s problems. It is Eldora who teaches Sunny the real meaning of “journey proud”. She and Willie provide wisdom that will remain with the reader long after the book is laid aside. Other dividends of Journey Proud are its gentle humor woven into the picture of a bygone time and its people who considered that they had all the luxuries of life even if they lacked some of the necessities.