If Pat Conroy had been raised on a tobacco farm in South Georgia, this is the novel he would have written. Plowed Fields is a powerful story about a time in history that left more scars than we care to remember. With his rich detail of farm life, complex characters and sure sense of storytelling, Jim Barber has captured a time and place in Americana with lyrical precision and stunning beauty. Amid the darkness and evil, he has infused this story with warmth, heart and hope as promising as a newly plowed field.
Becky Blalock, author of Dare
Not since Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove have I read such a solid, unembellished, detail-rich portrayal of rural life lived out in fiction. In fact, while reading Plowed Fields, it seemed I was watching an intriguing TV miniseries. Plowed Fields is all that a family saga should be—natural, endearing, superbly written and enchanting. Add to that "fresh" and "exact!" The characters come alive under Jim Barber's control. Jim Barber is a master storyteller; so by definition, that makes Plowed Fields a masterpiece. Readers are in for a glad experience.
Janice Daugharty, author of Earl in the Yellow Shirt and The Paw-Paw Patch
Plowed Fields explores the hard choices we make, the love we give and the joy, sorrow and hope that shape our lives. It is a deeply moving story of “ordinary people” navigating through extraordinary times. Ultimately, Plowed Fields paints a portrait of faith lost and found. Joe Baker and his family will resonate with you long after the last page is read. I hope there’s a sequel.
Sam Heys, author of The Winecoff Fire and
Imagine a family like TV’s The Waltons living and loving on a tobacco farm in South Georgia during the 1960s, and you will have a strong sense of Plowed Fields. The story certainly has a wholesome quality—some might even say sentimental—but it’s also “glazed with the sorrow of a devastating truth.” Jim Barber has captured a time and place with exquisite detail and superb storytelling. Plowed Fields will break your heart, but it’s the warmth and tenderness of the people and their stories that will stay with you.
Emelyne Williams, editor of Atlanta Women Speak
Jim Barber's extraordinary Plowed Fields is reminiscent of Laura Ingalls Wilder's masterpiece series of LITTLE HOUSE books. Barber's canvas is hardscrabble Cookville, Georgia, of 1960 rather than Ingalls Wilder's 1870s Minnesota. And rather than focus on a daughter, Plowed Fields centers on Joe Baker, the oldest of Matt and Caroline Baker's six children. The family saga tracks the Bakers over a tumultuous decade in which they weather struggles with drought, fire, a family feud, loss of faith, death and the cultural changes shaking the rural South of the civil rights era. Barber is an exciting new voice who defines family and coming of age with an engaging style.
Joey Ledford, author of Speed Trap and Elkmont: The Smoky Mountain Massacre
Set in the recent past, this is the perfect novel for our time of national uncertainty, cynicism, and corruption of values emanating from the very top. In nine episodes, Plowed Fields gives us the turbulent 1960s as lived in Georgia by the Baker family. Their haunting saga of desire and responsibility—of revolution and resolution—has a great deal to say to us today. In the words of the aphorism often attributed to Mark Twain, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”
Alan Axelrod, author of The Gilded Age, 1876-1912: Overture to the American Century and How America Won World War I