It is 1872, Agate Hill, North Carolina. Civil War Restoration. Molly Petree, thirteen, peeps out of a wall chink from her secret cubbyhole in the eaves of a tumble-down plantation house to survey a world gone awry. “I know I am a spitfire and a burden,” she begins her diary. “I do not care. For I am a refugee girl…”
Carefully she places the diary in her treasured “box of phenomena” which will contain “letters, poems, songs, court records, marbles, rocks, dolls, and a large collection of bones, some human and some not” by the time it is found during a historic renovation project in 2003.
The documents chronicle her passionate, picaresque journey to a boarding school, then to the mountains where she teaches school and runs off with a banjo player–through love, betrayal, motherhood, and a murder trial—finally back to Agate Hill to end her days as even she could never have imagined.
The evaluations were phenomenal. Your score on a scale of one to ten was TEN!
—Silas House, Mountain Heritage Literary Festival
It's Molly's story, yes, with essential parts of it told by three other characters: a headmistress, a teacher, and a mountain man. But I was already hooked on the passion, the adventure, the humor—Lee Smith’s trademarks.
How could I make it a one-woman show? Only by taking on these other three characters, too, that’s how—with the help of director Suzanne Tinsley's clever staging, and musical accompanist Jeff Sebens's musical theme for each character. Oh, and of course by my usual technique of framing the story as a flashback.
Barbara Bates Smith is living proof that books can change lives.
The Winchester Star