Reviews and News
The New York Times Review of Stealing
Assured, intuitive… Kit has a timeless voice, descriptive and observant… This powerful novel should join classics like Ernest J. Gaines's "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman," Helena Maria Viramontes's "Under the Feet of Jesus" and Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird."
Publishers Weekly's Review of Stealing
Verble, a Pulitzer finalist for Maud's Line, draws on the abuses at Native American and First Nations boarding schools for her blistering latest, set in the 1950s somewhere along the Arkansas River. Nine-year-old Kit Crockett has been lonely since the death of her Cherokee mother; her white father cares for her as best he can. When glamorous Bella moves into a nearby cabin that used to be Kit's uncle's, Kit revels in the woman's maternal affection, but the locals aren't very welcoming toward the outsider, who descends from a "stew" of Native and white ancestors. In the aftermath of a tragedy, the details of which are made clear near the end, local clerical and legal authorities compel Kit to attend a nearby boarding school, where she and other Native girls are subjected to prejudice and abuse. Kit's only solace is her journal, in which she traces her friendship with Bella and chronicles the school's mistreatment of students. Kit's realistically naive perspective and her appealingly digressive narration build suspense and intrigue as readers slowly grasp the scale of the losses that will shape her life. Evoking the title, the varied meanings of "steal" (both to abscond and to creep) weave throughout the story in clever ways. Verble's skillful storytelling does justice to a harrowing chapter of history. (1/9/2023)
When Two Feathers Fell From the Sky
"A blend of historical fiction and magical realism makes this an unforgettable story."
Book Riot Nov. 3, 2021
"By drawing from her own childhood coming up in the neighborhood built over the old Glendale Park, Verble took little kernels discovered in her youth — old trolley tracks, a giant animal bone, spooky caves — and expanded them into a magnificent story recounting a piece of Nashville history from the Native American perspective. Providing another anchor to time and place, the author pays homage to her distinguished predecessors in Southern literature by resurrecting character names pulled from the works of Peter Taylor and Alfred Lealand Crabb…Combining meticulous research, a fresh point-of-view and vivid imagery, Verble's third novel does what historical fiction does best: folds a compelling story into a snapshot of time before life changed….A wholesome story of hope for the future, the search for justice and ultimately a tale of human connection, "When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky" leaves the reader feeling that "we get the world we have, not the one we want. But we can make this one better."
Atlanta Journal Constitution Oct. 4, 2021
"In this fun, entertaining and highly informative historical novel, award-winning author Margaret Verble, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, surrounds Two Feathers' story with a concise history of the area and an in-depth look at the social culture and mores of the times…Verble artfully brings in the supernatural as the plot flows into a mystery with the hobbled protagonist the principal investigator. She will have you believing and cheering, especially for the ghost. Great fun."
The Florida Times-Union Oct. 2, 2021
"Pulitzer Prize finalist Margaret Verble has written a singularly unique story of a Cherokee horse-diver named Two Feathers. Alternatively funny and touching, this novel has a distinctly original and unconventional feel."
Ms. Magazine Oct. 1, 2021
"A compelling, haunting read...Read it if you're into ghost stories, mysteries, Native American hisotry."
"Verble beautifully weaves peroid details with the cast's histories, and enthralls with the supernatural elements, which are made as real for the reader as they are for the characters. This lands perfectly."
Publishers Weekly 7/2021 Starred Review
"Verble, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, has written an ambitious novel that's impressive in its scope and concept: Glendale Park Zoo and the 101 are rife with narrative possibility and give the author a chance to examine a fascinating cross section of race and class, and the uneasy relations between all manner of characters."
Kirkus Review 7/2021
Cherokee America wins the Spur Award for Best Traditional Western Novel.
New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)
"'Cherokee America' is an essential corrective to the racially tinged myths created to justify the annihilation of indigenous cultures and the theft of native lands. The pacing of the novel mimics the rhythm of a Cherokee neighborly visit: conversation about the weather, crops, family and gossip before getting around to the real point of the call. No matter what was discussed, no matter what was resolved (or not resolved), there was joy and satisfaction in spending time with friends and family. That's how you will feel about Check and the other characters by the end of the novel. You're invested in them, their culture, their life. Verble has given historical fiction lovers a real gift: "Cherokee America" is an excellent illustration of how diverse books enrich literature, and the minds of those who read them." - Melissa Lenhardt
"' Cherokee America is a wonderfully told historical fiction story...The writing and character development are perfect." Joan Kletzker, emissourian.com 4/1/19
Maud's Line is Making Katie Presley Happy
"It's light, but so richly drawn that it's completely immersive, every step of the way. If you are from the middle part of the country, or a westerner in any way, I think the way this book describes wide open space and people living close to the land will hit you right in the sternum, as it did me. It's earthy, it's sensual, sometimes it's downright sexy....I cannot recommend it highly enough."
NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour
Pulitizer Prize Finalist citation for Maud's Line
"A novel whose humble prose seems well-suited to the remote American milieu it so engagingly evokes: the Indian allotments of 1920s Oklahoma."
Tom Eblen, Lexington Herald Leader
"Maud's Line is a page-turner whose spare, vivid prose brings characters to life in a time, place and circumstances that few non-Indians know anything about....As big a presence (in the book) as any of the characters is the land itself --- snake-infested Oklahoma Indian country, divided by a checkerboard of 'section line' dirt roads every square mile. Maud and her kin have scratched out a living there for 90 years since the Federal troops force-marched them from Georgia."
Joel Van Valin, Ed., Whistling Shade
"Unlike most historical fiction, famous events and personages are not paraded before us....Instead Verble tells us the story of...What exactly? That's what keeps you guessing. A tale of murder on one page, a turgid romance on another, Maud's Line detours around all genre formulas --even the well-known trope of the "literary Novel."...Like Wessex in Thomas Hardy's, The Return of the Native, the Oklhoma of Maud's Line can be quaintly rustic, but the forlornness of the countryside also has darker undertones that surface in its characters."
Magazine of the National Museum of the American Indian Winter Issue 2015
"[Margaret Verble] gives careful consideration to place, having spent a lot of time on these lands, rivers and streams, and through direct encounters with all the inhabitants of this place - both people and animals, their natures and behaviors. This is all rich source material that informs her writing. Maud's Line is filled with the deeper truths that stem from these stories."
Maud's Line, Editor's Choice, Historical Novel Society
Maud Nail, growing up on the Cherokee allotment lands in the 1920s, shares a tiny shack and a hard life with her father, Mustard, and her brother, Lovely. A straight-up delight, she shines like a free spirit: “At eighteen, she was fit, dark, and tall like the rest of her mother’s family and most of her tribe. She was more of a willow than an oak, and her figure and personality had grown pleasing to every male within a twenty mile radius, to some of the women, too, and to most of the animals.” She loves Dickens; she craves a wringer washing machine. But she seems doomed to the same grim, desperate life as her mother, dead of snake bite. Then she meets a white peddler, just passing through, and she sees a way to escape.
Underlying all this is a strenuous and unsentimental examination of the tensions between Maud’s traditions and the white society, a clash of values that shapes her life as surely as her endless chores and the hard country she lives in. In clean, spare prose, Margaret Verble describes a people’s struggle to maintain a culture and an identity that both sustains and imprisons them. Her observations of the beauty and anguish of this life, and her vivid heroine, make this as good a novel as I’ve read all year.
Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia
Maud's Line is filled with evocative glimpses of violence, viscera, yearning and the brusque but communal caring of family. In her unadorned writing style, below the violence and hardship on the surface of Maud's life, Verble crafts a story filled with nuance and quiet conflict. She exhibits a talent for characterization: each individual is carefully and distinctly fashioned, so that Lovely's girlfriend and the members of Maud's extended family, for example, shine brightly in even the briefest of appearances. Maud herself is finely wrought, caught between the values she's been raised with--and the people she loves--and a hope for a different life, one with electricity and hygiene in place of dust and blood. One of the greatest strengths of Verble's novel, set on her own family's land allotment, is the delicate interior conflicts produced by Maud's deceptively simple life. Propelled by its own momentum, Maud's Line pulls the reader along until, amid daily privations and small tragedies, Maud has the chance for the first time to choose for herself what her future will hold.
"First novelist Verble, herself an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, does a beautiful job of limning a sometimes hardscrabble Indian life that nevertheless has the comfort that familiarity and extended family bring. Place is especially important to the author’s story, and its setting is beautifully realized, as are the characters who populate this gentle novel...Pair this one with novels by Louise Erdrich."
"Maud is refreshingly open and honest about her own sexuality through conscious of her place as a woman in a sexist society, always careful not to insult the intelligence or manhood of her male friends and relations. Verble writes in a simple style that matches the hardscrabble setting and plainspoken characters. Verble, herself a member of the Cherokee Nation, tells a compelling story peopled with flawed yet sympathetic characters, sharing insights into Cherokee society on the parcels of land alloted to them after the Trail of Tears."
“Margaret Verble gives us a gorgeous window onto the Cherokee world in Oklahoma, 1928. Verble’s voice is utterly authentic, tender and funny, vivid and smart, and she creates a living community – the Nail family, Maud herself, her father, Mustard, and brother, Lovely, and the brothers Blue and Early, the quiet, tender-mouthed mare Leaf, and the big landscape of the bottoms – the land that was given to the Cherokees after the Trail of Tears. Beyond the allotments, it opens up into the wild, which is more or less what Verble does with this narrative. It’s a wonderful debut novel.”
Roxana Robinson, author of Sparta
"I want to live with Maud in a little farm in a little valley under the shadow of a mountain wall. Maud's Line is an absolutely wonderful novel and Margaret Verble can drop you from great heights and still easily pick you up. I will read anything she writes, with enthusiasm.”—Jim Harrison, author of Dalva, Legends of the Fall, and most recently The Big Seven.
"Writing as though Daniel Woodrell nods over one shoulder and the spirit of Willa Cather over the other, Margaret Verble gives us Maud, a gun-toting, book-loving,dream-chasing young woman whose often agonizing dilemmas can only be countered by sheer strength of heart." Malcolm Brooks, author of Painted Horses.