I read The Kitchen House, and heard Kathleen Grissom speak then at our town’s Author Lunch. When Glory Over Everything became available on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read it. I knew from her talk that Grissom was working on a sequel to her bestseller, and I was curious to see if it could be as compelling — for me, the title itself was inspiring. I am not sure, without re-reading Kitchen House, but I might venture to say that Glory Over Everything was even better. It may be because there is an established sympathy for the characters, and Grissom does not need to work so hard to reacquaint us with them. Of course, this also means that the unsavory characters are back again with a vengeance, and along with them an overwhelming sense of dread and despair. The story itself is wholly new, and the characters are alive on every page, well-developed and carefully drawn. The various storylines offered a look at the moral divide between the north and the south, but also acknowledged when those lines were not so stark, and tended to blur into each other.
What I liked most about this novel was that while it would be tempting to tell this story from a position of moral high ground, Grissom does not offer stereotypes spouting platitudes, and everyone does not always live happily ever after. Her characters are shown close-up, with the grime behind their fingernails and sweat-stained clothes. They are not all pretty, and they are not all good, but they are all so very real. And they will make you laugh, cry, despair, and finally, hope.