A lyrical and poetic fable, Greenwlllow tells of the romance between young Gideon Briggs, who is haunted by a family curse that, he believes, will cause him to wander and leave his family alone. He vows never to marry, but is conflicted when he falls in love with Dorrie, an orphan girl.
Set in the 1930s in a nebulously located small town, Greenwillow is full of interesting characters, including the Reverend Lapp, who preaches hellfire, damnation and the eternal loss of the souls of babies who die before being baptised. When the genial Reverend Birdsong shows up, sent, as he says, “by the Bishop”, the two preachers have to compromise and share the church, even if they cannot agree entirely on doctrine.
This delightful book, lovingly narrated by Ann M. Richardson – it is one of her mother’s favourite books – was a huge success when it was first released and was made into a musical by Frank Loesser. It starred Anthony Perkins, who was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical, even though the show only ran for two months. Perkins was shooting Psycho at the time and always said that a body double had been used in the shower scene because he was rehearsing a play. Greenwillow was that play.