Through studying Florida’s past, I’ve constantly come across Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings as one of Florida’s premier authors, which means quite a bit to me since I love reading and writing. So, I decided to embark on a Rawlings reading quest to see what all the hubbub was about. I choose three of her books–South Moon Under, Cross Creek, and–the Pulitzer Prize winner–The Yearling.
I read them consecutively, and afterwards, had a brand new perspective on Florida. Her books deal with the Florida Crackers–early settlers of Florida’s scrub country. They lived in harsh conditions, fighting for survival from bears, snakes, and alligators. It was an amazing window into what it was like to live in Florida in older days, before it had become massively settled. I can tell you I really felt for the characters, was enthralled by Rawlings’ descriptions of the Florida wilderness, and left with a new perspective on Florida history.
South Moon Under was her first novel exploring the Florida terrain. It deals with several generations of Florida Crackers and lots of moonshiners. I can’t say I’ve ever read a book like it. It will make you want to go out on a romp through the Florida backlands.
The Yearling is the best of the three and is considered a classic, although I haven’t heard of it until just a couple years ago. But Hollywood had made a movie about it years ago and the book won the Pulitzer Prize, so it’s hard to argue about that. Plus, the writing is superb, the descriptions are spot on, and the story is enthralling. If you only pick one of these three books to read, this is the one.
The third book is autobiographic, Cross Creek, which documents the day to day doings of Rawlings and the Cross Creek citizens, which is where she lives. It is another good read, dry at times, but still good. I’m not going to lie though, some passages in the book are outrageously racist. You’ll see what I mean if you give it a read.
If you’re a Florida nerd, you’ll want to read all of these books too. There shouldn’t be any issue finding them at your local library. Enjoy!