Delaney's People

Don't Shoot Your Mule

Books by Beth Duke



"Though I had been prepared for this unique and appealing work, I was delighted and surprised by the form and substance of "Delaney's People." Alabama is more noted for football prowess than literary genius, but Ms. Duke may rewite the rules. Delaney's people become our own folk as short stories paint a larger and yet intricate canvas. This is the first book that I have immediately re-read since "To Kill A Mockingbird" almost fifty years ago. That, too, was an Alabama product as I recall."

 "I'm originally from Northwest Florida, which I lovingly refer to as "Southern Alabama". Truly, the Panhandle culture is very closely related to Alabama, so I connected well with the richly evocative Southern world Duke presented in Delaney's People.

I love books full of individual vignettes and cultural intricacies, and Delaney's People has that in spades. I was charmed as each story fleshed out its character and showed that there was more to each person than met the eye. Rife with history, tradition, grief, humor, heart, and that combination of class and closeness the South is famous for, I can nearly guarantee you'll be delighted by this book. I certainly was."

 "If you haven't bought this book, you MUST buy it. I have never felt like a part of a book and its characters in all my life until I read her book.
Delaney is the main character and it revolves about the people in her present life and the people before her that helped shaped her life - family and friends of those around her.
I laughed and I cried. Then I laughed and cried some more.
She writes in her acknowledgements that she may have borrowed an image and created a character around that image, I'll give you two of the many - Dr. Judge and Mrs. Burgess. Then there is the character Lily. That is when I really cried. While the characters are fiction, the names had meaning to me in my real life. The places mentioned in the book are fiction, but I do know the places they were probably "named after" in Anniston, AL
Her history is accurate and her description of a neighboring county couldn't be more superb.
I literally did not put it down until I was finished. I noticed she has another book that I will buy as well."

 "This is a phenomenal collection of short stories that piece together how a person came to be. The stories span characters and time to create a rich tale that really encompasses the humanity of the South. Although on the surface the stories may seem disconnected, don’t make the mistake of reading them out of order. Beth Duke weaves a very deliberate and intricate tale through this unique medium, and I have to say it creates a much fuller story than a traditional novel could. Because the stories are so unique and disparate, you can’t really assign this book to a specific genre. It features a little bit of everything, much like real life."

"If there was a way to capture the true essence of Southern Grace, Beauty and Charm, put it in a bottle and label it, you'd have Beth Duke. She is the living embodiment of the Southern belle, sweet, saucy and delightfully stubborn. She will do for Delta, Alabama what Margaret Mitchell did for Atlanta.
Delaney's People, Beth's debut novel, reads like a jar of honey. It's sweet, sticky sometimes, and if a stray bee is still hovering about might even sting you into believing you are living the stories with her.
Her stories are sentimental and homespun, and she leaves you feeling as if you've leisurely passed the morning in your favorite rocking chair on your grandmother's front porch sipping on a glass of sweet tea.
Her stories leave me wishing I'd written that."

"I was engaged from the first page of this book to the last! I felt like these characters could be a part of my family and I laughed with them and cried with them! It is such a sweet book! I have been telling everyone I can to GET THIS BOOK!"

"Author Beth Duke describes the characters and the landscape to the point where you feel as if you have been sucked into the book itself and are in the presence of Delaney and her ancestors. You will laugh and cry, celebrate and mourn with Delaney's family as you map their journey from their home country in Ireland to the great state of Alabama. From the moment you open the cover of Delaney's People, you shred the outdated fifties Dixie stereotypes and are swept into the very essence of Southern charm and sophistication."

 "The first question a stranger gets asked in the South is "who are you kin to?" Now, we aren't being rude or nosy. It's our way of trying to make a connection with you, someone whom we don't know and don't much understand, especially if you hail from more than two counties (or states) away. But you don't have to be from the South to relate to Delaney's People. Walking through Delaney's world is like taking a visit back home or attending a family reunion. Or going to a visitation (a "wake", for you Northern folks.) We all have a grandmother like Margaret. A mother like Ellen. An uncle or a brother like Tom. People who, God help us, just want "the best for us". We have all suffered at the hands of a snooty little cousin like Caitlin. We know the fierce love of a friend like Lily. We hear the gentle wisdom in Millard's voice, tempered by patience born of long-suffering. We all have a sad, sweet Daniel in our lives. Delaney's world is a small window into how our lives are intertwined with the ones around us, for better or worse. There is heartbreak in this world, and joy, and loss. At the very center is a lovely little girl named Delaney. Sit a spell, and visit with Delaney's People: A Novel In Small Stories. You might find someone you're "kin to."

 "On one of my father's hospital stays, a cousin visited him while I was also in his room. I'd known her all my life, but I'd never had a conversation with her beyond the basic small talk. It wasn't long before my father and his cousin began to go down memory lane talking about what they remembered of grandparents and great-grandparents and childhood escapades. I hadn't known any of this before, and I sat there totally captivated, not wanting them to stop even when visiting hours were over. Reading Delaney's People brought that experience back to me. I believe there is a wealth of information handed down from generation to generation in families that is invaluable if only people realized it and appointed someone in the family as the scribe for each new generation that comes along.

Author, Beth Duke, has written the story of a family in Delaney's People by using the short story form and then putting all those small stories together to form a narrative that is interesting, clever, heartwarming, as well as heartbreaking. It all begins with Maggie who is in awe of her great-granddaughter, Delaney. Before too long I, too, was charmed by Delaney as she wound her way through past and present as a composite of what her family has become.

There's something for everyone in **Delaney's People**. There is no shortage of love, yes, but there's so much more than that. There's deceit, lies, jealousy, passion, murder, loyalty, betrayal, and at the bottom of it all, there's the unshakeable strength of family ties and the role women play in keeping a family connected to each other. One of the things I liked so much about this book was Duke's treatment of the men. They were not the afterthoughts men can often be in a book primarily about women. Duke lets the reader in on the thoughts, hopes, and desires her male character have, and then she weaves in the woman's touch, and often wisdom, that comes from the female point of view. While this book is not a marriage manual, the intent of the overall book seemed to me to be that marriage can be a partnership in which both the man and the woman bring the best of themselves to the situations and issues that confront them. Each of the characters learns a life lesson that helps them overcome both small and large obstacles.

For me, the character I loved most was Maggie. She begins the story by talking about her jewelry and how she acquired most of it. The memories she shared through those sequences were wonderfully nostalgic. Not only that, but Maggie came up with what I consider to be the most innovative use for oysters I've ever heard. I only wish I'd known about it 15 years ago. Reading about Maggie maturing through the years was a picture of what I think being a cornerstone in a family means. The most heartbreaking character for me was Dr. Rob Clarke. He was the hardest character for me to leave behind because his story was so touching, moving, and tragic.

But then, that's how all of Delaney's People are. They are the people who live next door to us who've all had their share of trials and troubles and yet manage, somehow, to survive whatever life throws their way. Sometimes things work out, and sometimes they don't or can't or just plain won't. As long as there's a strong base and some blood, sweat, and tears, we're all Delaney's People in the end. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy a very good story told in a unique way. It would make a great Holiday Gift for someone special on a list."

 "Bravo to Ms. Duke's first novel Delaney's People. Ms. Duke was masterful in telling a story that made me sorry to see this book end. Page turner is an understatement for this book. I will be first in line to get Ms. Duke's next novel."

"A really wonderful book. The author doesn't just tell a story, she paints a beautiful picture of a family through several generations. It is definitely a journey worth taking."

"Dear Beth Duke... I finished Delaney's People early this morning. Keep baking cupcakes, chasing chickens and perfecting the true southern biscuit. Do what ever it is that inspires you to keep writing MORE... I didn't want it to end!"

 "Delaney's People is a refreshing book of short stories about the most charming characters of the south. The writer has written it in such a way that you feel you are a part of each story. The characters reach out and steal your heart and leave you yearning for more. I sincerely hope there will be a sequel to this book so that we can find more diamonds on the red clay banks of Alabama. Loved it! Very much worth the purchase and a great addition to anyone's library. Because of the way it is written you can easily read again and NEVER be bored!!!!!"

"Southern literature has a long and rich history...there is something about the South that produces great writers. It must have something to do with the heat, humidity, crawly things, and the love/hate relationship with the past. There are so many interesting stories to tell. Beth Duke has captured this with "Delaney's People: A Novel in Small Stories". The beginning of it all with the Irish angst...the war between the's all here. It's a facinating look into the world of the deep South, past and present, written with a deep love of the best of what it's all about. Ms. Duke has a wonderful, lyrical way with words that paints clear, vivid pictures where you can almost smell, feel and taste the stories she tells. She always leaves you wanting to know more about the characters and their plights. I highly recommend this book to all who love the South."

"Delaney's People" was such fun to read. I live in Alabama and it was so nice to have someone write about the beauty and not so pretty warts of our heritage. Beth lives not far from where I live here in Alabama and I am so proud of her and her talent as a writer. When one reads this book it draws you into each character and the world they live in. I could hardly wait to read the next chapter and was disappointed when I got near the end that there was not one more. But I am anxiously awaiting the next book that should be out in the near future. Southern writers are the best, most unique writers because the south is so unique... good and bad."

"When I first read, "There are diamonds in the red hills of Alabama.", I was hooked. Each chapter left me wanting to know what was next. As soon as I finished it, I reread it to pick up what I had missed. I am waiting for her next novel."

"Delaney's People" was a delightful read, I lived in a small town in Alabama for 3 years and the characters were "spot on". I am always looking for southern fiction that paints these colorful profiles of the people of this part of the country and this was a perfect choice."

 "Beth Duke is a truly gifted author! I do hope that she will do many spin off novels from this book, it left me wanting to know more about each character she created. I love finding new writers who can create images in your head while you read and Beth Duke has accomplished giving each reader their own vista of the South. I loved all the charming characters and want more, more, more! Great reading!"

"Delaney's People is a lot of fun because the stories are so varied. You NEVER get bored, because each chapter puts you in a different place and time. The book is unusual and refreshing. I LOVE this book and I think anyone would enjoy it!"

"All things southern, especially literature has long been a favorite. Delaney's People does not disappoint. It is a wonderful novel of family and kinship. I loved it!!"

"Reading the book is like a good visit . Time flies by, people come and go,good food is enjoyed by all and the love shines through the time spent together. Be prepared to experience the mixed feelings you have for your own family. Not all of the characters are nice but all are loving and lovable. The book paints a portrait of a family that gives different perspectives from different points of view. A real good read!"

"Reading Delaney's People is like watching a good chick flick about the South. I could even hear the southern drawl in my head as I read. Thoroughly enjoyed this book, well done."

"Just finished reading this truly fun collection of intertwined short stories. Delaney's People with make you smile, laugh, shed a tear and nod with recognition like nothing I have ever read. So happy to call Beth Duke a friend and now she is forever on one of my bookshelves."

"I loved this book! The stories are very interesting, and I could not put it down. I live in Alabama, and liked the Crimson Tide football stuff, the civil rights history and the other things unique to this state. I learned a lot about Alabama, and I hope there is a sequel. The main characters leave you wanting to know what comes next!"

"My Hubby bought this book for me. The author created a interlocking whorl of family and friends in Alabama. She combined the beauty of Ireland, Alabama, and southern traditions. I'm peckish for more of her stories now. Keep this lady writing!"

"I enjoyed every page of this book. The characters are vivid and well drawn, and the chapter length is perfect to keep the reader turning pages to find what comes next. I only ordered one, but I am adding six more for my Christmas list!"

"I had such a wonderful experience losing myself in the stories and time lines! It was so interesting to go from Alabama to Ireland from century to century. I really felt like I knew these people. It is a wonderful read and Beth Duke really does have a way with words."

"Just finished Delaney's People and was sad for it to come to an end. I felt like I was part of the character's lives, stepping back and forth through time. Kind of like an intruder looking into the intimate lives of these charming characters. This book is heartwarming and captivating and kept me wanting to hear more. Can't wait for the next one!"

 "I really enjoyed this book. It is unique, charming, and delightful. I am from the area where the author is writing about and it felt like a visit home. I hope she has other books pending, and they come out soon. Beth Duke is a talented new writer whom we will be seeing a lot of. Best of luck Beth."

"Delaney's People was a delightful read. Perfect for those who love all things southern to curl up with on a rainy Saturday morning! I was sorry to come to the last page and am looking forward to Beth Duke's sequel."

"Love the book and love the author! What a wonderful read, I fell in love with the characters from the start. The short stories are written in a way that leaves you wanting more. I am enjoying the sequel Don't Shoot Your Mule and don't want it to end. I can't wait to see what the author has in mind for the next book!"

 "Absolutely fell into each story and into every family tie. Beth Duke wonderfully transcends us through time and generations of a loving family with rich heritage. I cannot wait to get my hands on her sequel,Don't Shoot Your Mule."

"What a great book! I felt myself being drawn in and relating to each character. Beth Duke's love of her sweet Alabama is evident on every page."


Photo: "Radar"
Courtesy of Donna & Paul Kadle