Sheila Williams's sophomore
effort, The Shade of My Own Tree is a wonderful, witty story of Opal Sullivan's journey to self-rediscovery
after years of physical and mental abuse at the hands of her husband, Ted. After nearly twenty years, she finally reaches a point when she does not recognize herself in the mirror
and decides to leave and begin a new life. For her new dwelling, she chooses
a dilapidated old home in a picturesque river town in need of a lot of work, much like herself. Renovating the home becomes a therapeutic release and symbolic of healing and reconstruction of her self-identity
and esteem. Along the way, she meets many eccentric characters, some in the form
of a "divafied" realtor, a confederate flag waving geriatric neighbor, a vampire-like boarder, and a bear of a dog that is
afraid of his own shadow.
She opens her heart and offers
her home as a safe haven to other abused women and finds herself giving advice that she herself only months before could not
have thought, much less uttered or taken. Through these acts, she discovers romance,
healing, and herself. Although one of the themes of the story surrounds physical
abuse, Williams's novel is sprinkled with the down-home humor and common sense expressions reminiscent of J. California
Cooper's wisdom. The Shade of My Own Tree is a splendid story with a delightful sub-plot that is perfectly
paced, very well written, and very easy to read. Bravo, Ms.Williams....keep em coming.
The Nubian Circle
Book Club rating of The Shade of My Own Tree is 4 out of 5 stars.