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Independent Press Award

2024 Distinguished Favorite

The Roots That Clutch

Beth Ann Hooper

The Roots That Clutch, a hauntingly true tale, embarks on a 21-year journey alongside Jane, a budding scholar. Through her PhD research on the literary giants T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, a shocking discovery unravels: her grandmother's hidden affair with another titan of American Modernism, William Carlos Williams. This revelation throws a shadow of doubt on Jane's own lineage, hinting at a potential biological connection to Williams.

Jane's narrative, a Bildungsroman, traces her path through prestigious universities and dusty manuscript libraries across Europe and the United States. It's a tapestry woven with the potent threads of betrayal, destiny, and a yearning for poetic justice. As a student navigating the treacherous waters of academic politics and professorial backstabbing, Jane finds solace in the support of a few exceptional mentors who recognize her innate gift for unlocking fresh perspectives within poetry.

Driven by an unwavering intuition, Jane perseveres through endless challenges. She delves deep into the poetic dialogues between Eliot, Pound, and their Victorian forebears, unearthing a treasure trove of Eliot's previously unpublished letters to Pound. These letters lay bare a truth that transcends academic intrigue – the poets themselves are not strangers to betrayal.

Meanwhile, a family heirloom gifted by Jane's father unveils a poignant inscription by Williams, echoing his lifelong distrust of Eliot. This inscription becomes another piece in the puzzle Jane is meticulously piecing together, blurring the lines between literary history and personal revelation.

The Roots That Clutch promises a captivating exploration of poetry, family secrets, and the enduring human search for truth. Its captivating narrative, spanning continents and decades, invites readers to delve into the heart of literary history and ponder the complex web of relationships that bind us together. With each twist and turn, Jane's journey reminds us that the past holds potent stories waiting to be unearthed, and sometimes, the truth we seek lies hidden within the very words that have shaped our world.

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