THE SPIRIT OF SWEETGRASS
books - The Spirit of Sweetgrass
Selected as the May 2007 FaithPoint Book-of-the-Month for Books-a-Million
What people are saying
Nicole Seitz joins a long line of distinguished novelists who celebrate the rich culture of the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Like most of us from around here, she grew up watching the sweetgrass basket weavers who ply their ancient craft from Beaufort all the way up to Georgetown. She joins Josephine Humphreys, Anne Rivers Siddons, Sue Monk Kidd, and Dorothea Benton Frank in her fascination with the Gullah culture. Her character, Essie Mae Laveau Jenkins, is worth the price of admission to The Spirit of Sweetgrass.
— Pat Conroy, Best-selling Author of The Prince of Tides, The Lords of Discipline, The Great Santini, The Water is Wide, Beach Music, The Boo and My Losing Season
Essie Mae Jenkins will capture your heart! Seitz delivers a warm and thoughtful rendering of one Gullah woman's plight to protect her rich and endangered way of life. A lovely debut!
— Beth Webb Hart, Author of Adelaide Piper and Grace at Low Tide
The Spirit of Sweetgrass swept me away! The story is timeless; the characters irresistible. Protagonist Essie Mae’s lyrical-miracle-magical journey to the heart of all that matters—family, freedom, faith, and forgiveness—will warm your heart like sun on sand and show you the path to a better way home.
— J. L. Miles, Author of Cold Rock River and Roseflower Creek
Nicole Seitz has created a nostalgic tale woven around traditions of the South, and narrated with an authentic southern voice that adds charm to scenes and characters, reflecting unique qualities of Lowcountry life.
— Michelle Buckman, Author of A Piece of the Sky
Nicole Seitz explores the spirit of sweetgrass through the spirit of her remarkable basket weaving narrator, Essie Mae. Together, they weave the story of Essie Mae's family and friends into something strong, beautiful—and inspiring.
— Michael Conner, Nebula Award-winner and Author of Archangel
Reviews and Buzz
From Publishers Weekly
— Publishers Weekly
From Blogcritics Magazine
— By Vicki McCollum, Blogcritics Magazine
From Aspiring Retail
— Aspiring Retail
From Faithful Reader
— Reviewed by Cindy Crosby, Faithfulreader.com (Read full review)
The first lines of the novel say, “This is what I remember about that night —my last night alive. After having me a fine meal of crispy cornbread and dipping it in buttermilk just like Daddy used to do, I headed on back to the bathroom. I turned on the water in the tub, not too hot, but good enough to get my blood moving. I wanted to feel the life tingling through my veins.
“For being 78 years old, I can’t say as I ever felt more alive than I did that very night. It’s a funny thing knowing you gonna die soon.” Honestly, Essie Mae wants to die. She’s not suicidal, she just wants to see her beloved husband Daddy Jim again. Jim died years ago, but he comes to visit and talk to Essie Mae while she weaves and sells her sweetgrass baskets by the highway. Daddy Jim has seen and learned a lot about heaven and has promised her when she gets there, she can meet Jesus.
Besides, it’s not like things on earth are that great. Tax collectors claim Essie Mae hasn’t paid taxes on her house in years and owes $10,000. Her daughter Henrietta wants to put Essie Mae in a nursing home, but Essie Mae and Henrietta have been quarreling since Henrietta’s childhood, so that’s nothing new. Plus, developers want to sell the land near the highway where Essie Mae and her friends sell their baskets, so there goes her livelihood.
If it weren’t for her darling grandson EJ and her newly discovered talents at matchmaking, Essie Mae probably would have died sooner. But while heaven is wonderful and all Essie Mae could hope for, things on earth are still worrisome. And try as she might, Essie Mae can’t turn her back on her family, her friends, or even her sweetgrass baskets.
In the end, her sweetgrass and her faith are what heal Essie Mae — on earth and in heaven. Which brings us to the book’s last lines, “Let me tell you, sweet-grass don’t lie. It’s the realest and mosthones’ thing I know. “Ain’t that right, Jim?”
— Reviewed by Holly Jones
— Harriet Klausner (Read full review on Christianbook.com)
From Christianbook.com e-cast
4-Stars from Romantic Times BookReviews
— Reviewed by Bev Huston, Romantic Times BookReviews Magazine (Read full review)
From Armchair Interviews
— Reviwed by Eileen Key, Armchair Interviews (Read full review)
— Reviewed by Sherri Myers, Romancejunkies.com (Read full review)
From Author's Choice Reviews
— Reviewed by Kay Tira, Author's Choice Reviews (Read full review)
From Novel Reviews
Nicole Seitz writes beautifully, weaving and crafting this saga not unlike the baskets so diligently and painstakingly woven by her protagonist's loving fingers...If you love to ask God questions and like to ponder heaven, or if you curl up with lazy, literary fiction, quirky characters, cultural details and stories that wrap around your thoughts and your heart, I think you'll enjoy THE SPIRIT OF SWEETGRASS.
— Reviewed by Kelly Klepfer, Novel Reviews (Read full review)
From CB Reviews
The faith message is expertly woven in, and is not preachy. The story is told like Miss Essie is sitting right beside you the telling the story (I could almost smell the sweetgrass and see her weaving baskets)...I highly recommend THE SPIRIT OF SWEETGRASS as a southern fiction novel you won’t want to miss.
— Reviewed by Laura V. Hilton, faithwebbin.net (Read full review)
From The Romance Readers Connection
— Reviewed by Elissa Kyle, theromancereadersconnection.com (Read full review)
From The Road to Romance
Essie is on her way to be with the Lord and even gets to the pearly gates and sees her loved ones. When she realizes her passing has caused problems in the family left behind that only she can correct.
This book truly put you in the setting. You felt as if you could smell the sweetgrass as Essie was making the baskets. It also impressed that important message that none of us know when our time is and we should make sure we are right not only with the Lord but our families.
— Reviewed by Kristy Pelletier, The Road to Romance
From Barbara Warren
Like her daughter, Henrietta, who is thinking about of putting Essie Mae in Sunnydale Farm, a nursing home, just because she hasn't paid her taxes for several years and her house is going to be sold on the courthouse steps. After all, she only owes $10,000.00. No reason at all to move a God-fearing woman out of the home where she raised her children, and loved them all, including Henrietta, although she's acting downright mean now. Besides, Jim says he's not going to Sunnydale with her, and she isn't ready to give him up.
Nicole Seitz has captured Miss Essie so
completely the reader knows her immediately from page one. She is honest,
outspoken, and loving. The Spirit of Sweetgrass is as warm and comforting
as Miss Essie's light bread rolls served up in a newly woven sweetgrass
basket. This one's a keeper.