Saints In Limbo

Paperback | May 5, 2009

byRiver Jordan

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“River Jordan’s Saints in Limbo is a compelling story of the mysteries of existence and, specially, the mysteries of the human heart.”
–Ron Rash, author of Serena and Chemistry and Other Stories

“I lose myself in River’s writing–transported to a different time and place– and in this case,  to one that makes the ordinary mystical and magical. I give it FIVE diamonds in the Pulpwood Queen’s TIARA!”
–Kathy L. Patrick, founder of the Pulpwood Queens Book Clubs and author of The Pulpwood Queens’ Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life

Ever since her husband Joe died, Velma True’s world has been limited to what she can see while clinging to one of the multicolored threads tied to the porch railing of her home outside Echo, Florida.

When a mysterious stranger appears at her door on her birthday and presents Velma with a special gift, she is rattled by the object’s ability to take her into her memories–a place where Joe still lives, her son Rudy is still young, unaffected by the world’s hardness, and the beginning is closer than the end. As secrets old and new come to light, Velma wonders if it’s possible to be unmoored from the past’s deep roots and find a reason to hope again.   
 
Praise for River Jordan

“[River Jordan’s] literary spice rack has everything you need to put together a good book.”
–Rick Bragg, author of All Over but the Shoutin’ and Ava’s Man

“River Jordan writes so beautifully.”
–Joshilyn Jackson, author of Gods in Alabama and The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

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From the Publisher

“River Jordan’s Saints in Limbo is a compelling story of the mysteries of existence and, specially, the mysteries of the human heart.”–Ron Rash, author of Serena and Chemistry and Other Stories“I lose myself in River’s writing–transported to a different time and place– and in this case,  to one that makes the ordinary mystical and magi...

From the Jacket

Praise for Saints in Limbo“River Jordan’s Saints in Limbo is a compelling story of the mysteries of existence and, especially, the mysteries of the human heart.”–RON RASH, author of Serena and Chemistry and Other Stories“River Jordan’s artful writing style is utterly captivating. Add to that the heartfelt, intriguing story line of Sain...

River Jordan is a critically acclaimed novelist and playwright whose unique mixture of Southern and mystic writing has drawn comparisons to Sarah Addison Allen, Leif Enger, and Flannery O’Connor. Her previous works include The Messenger of Magnolia Street, lauded by Kirkus Reviews as "a beautifully written, atmospheric tale." She speak...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 8.2 × 5.19 × 0.8 inPublished:May 5, 2009Publisher:The Crown Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307446700

ISBN - 13:9780307446701

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Customer Reviews of Saints In Limbo

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Mysterious Visitor Brings a Widow's Past Back to Her But it Comes with a Dangerous Price Reason for Reading: I love Southern fiction, especially when old ladies are involved for some reason. The mysterious visitor angle got me and knowing this was Random House's Christian Fiction imprint I just felt the story would resonate with me somehow. I don't know where to begin to describe this story. Southern fiction is usually defined by its quirky characters and this book certainly has its fair share of those. All of them as lovable and quirky as the next, even the irritating ones end up showing their compassionate side. Plot wise we start off with an elderly woman, Velma, but just how old we are never told; she could have been anywhere between 60s and 80s, though I tended to think of her as in her late 60s. She has been widowed one year and basically had a nervous breakdown at her mailbox when she received his death certificate and now will not leave from the front of her house or travel by road. She has many brightly coloured strings leading from her porch to the mailbox, the birdbath, bird feeders, plants around the yard, etc. so she can be grounded to the house while she takes care of these needs. Velma is visited by a mysterious stranger one day and given a small rock with awesome power. It shines amazing colours when it wants to and can take Velma back into her memories, both happy and sad. But something evil wants this rock, which is much more than it seems. The evil makes its presence known bit by bit but it isn't until the end that it outright shows itself and an epic spiritual battle of good vs. evil must be fought. I absolutely adored this book! The story crosses so many genres within one plot but for the main part is simply a southern fiction story about a group of people in a small town with an added magical realism element. The spiritual battle/paranormal/horror or whatever you want to call it based on your own beliefs, because this book is perfectly readable by any creed. If you are Christian, you'll get the plot from a believer's view, but if you are not Christian, you'll simply read it from your own world view. There is no preaching, and really know mention of God; it's all in how you read the story. The characters are wonderful! Velma, the main character, I've mentioned. Then there is her best friend Sara who is the absolute opposite of Velma, a former school teacher, who has been looking for someone to share her knowledge with all her life and is now slowly losing her memory from Alzheimer's. Rudy, Velma's only son, though she had wanted a multitude, is a bachelor of choice, a womanizer who works as little as he can to get by, which means pay the bills, buy the booze and spend his nights with a good woman, currently he works part time as the rural route mail man. These are just the main three and there are plenty more to meet as well. The book's writing is also beautiful. The author captures the feel of the place, northern Florida far away from the ocean, and transplants the reader into her world. Her writing is lyrical and a joy to read. I really enjoyed this book; I think I said that already but it's true! Anyone who likes Southern Fiction will enjoy this book as long as they are able to suspend belief and accept the magical realism that is an integral part of the story. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2011-02-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Being in limbo... while reading? I tried. I tried really hard to enjoy this book. But after reading more than 16 chapters, I still don’t get it. I’m lost on what is going on and what is the whole purpose of the novel. I sense there are dealings with spiritual beings with the main characters but somehow it is not so clear. I guess I am not a brainy kind of woman. When I read a novel, I prefer being part of it and travel with the characters. But this novel – I’m lost – in limbo – literally. Oh I know someone who seems to have enjoyed the novel a lot. So that kind of novel does speak to others. Just not me I guess! There is a whole mystical idea throughout the novel which totally eludes me. I’ve read other books that contain some sort of spiritual battles in it and were captivating for me. Somehow this particular novel doesn’t hit the spot. It seems that after 16 chapters I could enjoy the novel more and I will continue reading it just because I hate not finishing something I started. I know I’m bizarre but if I don’t finish the book, how will I know if there isn’t something that will touch me later on. If you like not so evident novels, I think you might want to look into this one.
Date published: 2009-05-31

Extra Content

Read from the Book

It was the kind of day when even the lost believed. When possibilities were larger than reason, when potential was grander than circumstance, when the long, dark days of doubt were suddenly cast off and laid to rest. Brushed away with a smile and a certainty. And in this moment, from this place, you knew the real magic could happen.It was exactly this kind of day at the edge of a town in a southern place called Echo, Florida. Lying safely on the state’s northern border, Echo was first brethren more to its Alabama cousin than to the Gulf Coast. The land rolled by in rural peace and contentment, not given over to the moods of saltwater tides and open horizons but to the soft singing of wind in the pines, of roosters calling in the early morning light, of small cornfields and freshwater fishing holes.The firstborn leaves of March had sprouted into the tiniest sea of baby green. The world was breathing in and out, moving everything in its path slightly, and on due course, with a gentle, four-edges-of-the-earth kiss. The birds had filled the trees, rumbling from their winter’s sleep, and here they were now, glorious and in full song. Squirrels scampered, quick and unseen, beneath banks of dried loblolly pine needles, then ran up the trees so fast they left nothing but a trail of falling bark.Down at the edge of the powdery dirt road was Mullet Creek, running quietly, steadily throwing off stars of lightfrom its surface. You could hear the airborne fish breaking the bonds of water, then falling with a plop back into the chilly green of the creek.Within all the living things—the dirt, the water, the cloudless sky, the pine trees long and whispering—was theexpectation of something coming. Something full of light and wonder.When the expectation had stretched as far as it could, had built a crescendo into a feverish pitch, a peculiar windappeared. Only a tiny thing at first, but even then something special, something delicious and unique. A whirl began to take shape, collecting dirt from the dry bed of the middle of the road and spreading it upward into a spiraling funnel of substance. For a moment it appeared to be an errant breeze that caught the dirt and gave it a twirl, a bit of a dance, before it would settle itself to the nothing it once was. But the dance didn’t settle. Instead, it climbed higher and higher, pulling a streamof sandy soil, twisting it to and fro, as if something was shaping it with a manner of something in mind.At first, there was only the wind, the dust, the dirt, but then, shifting in and out of visible, were two well-worn and traveled boots.The dirt traveled higher, faster, revealing two trousered legs and then a waist, a chest, two arms with hands, until finally a head and on that head, a hat well lived in.The image presented a man who had been around, a traveler or a storyteller.For a time the man and the whirlwind were one and the same. Man and whirlwind. Whirlwind and man. But after a long moment, but still only a moment, the man stepped straight out of that wind, and without the least bit of tussle he planted his boots on solid ground. And in this exact manner, on this kind of a day, the man was born feetfirst onto the earth.He adjusted himself, pulling the clothes about his body, arranging the pants, the shirt, the jacket just so.He was a million miles roamed and completely at home. King to the subjects who might demand, but simple statesman to the orphan clan.He removed the hat and ran one hand through his thick white hair and surveyed the territory before him. Then, after careful and appropriate consideration, he replaced the hat and pulled a watch from the left pocket of his pants. He opened the cover and music began to play. Music so sweet, so hypnotic, so full, it exuded a scent with each note and left it hanging there in the air. “Right on time,” he declared aloud and then launched himself forward in a southern direction on the road that had given him life.He traveled only a rock’s throw toward the creek, and there just before the edge of the trees thatmade up a plot considered the woods, he paused and contemplated a house. Just a small white house of little consequence. A small shelter from the storms of life. There was an old mailbox by the road on which a yellow vine crawled and encircled its wooden post. Green bushes bloomed with early white gardenias on both sides of a little porch where there was a swing. In the swing sat a small hen of a woman.The man drew closer, almost but not quite visible, as he watched her from the north side of the pine tree woods.The woman stood slowly and went to the porch railing, leaned out as far as she could, and peered down the road. Suddenly she stepped back two steps and wrapped her arms about herself. She pursed her lips, pulled them up to one side, listening to that spring breeze singing through the pine needles and thinking.Then she spoke to her husband, dead now a year. It was an odd, comforting habit she’d taken up. It kept her lonely voice from rusting.“Did you feel that? That shift in the air?Well, what can I tell you, Joe? It changed. It was one way, then it was another.”She paused, looked out toward the tree line. “And somebody’s out there standing just beyond the trees.” She called out, “Who goes there?” and waited amoment for a reply.There was no answer, but that didn’t move her. She was certain that she was right.That someone was watching, waiting just beyond her line of sight.

Bookclub Guide

US1. Saints in Limbo takes place in the deep, rural south, in fictional Echo, Florida, near the state’s northern border near Alabama. Have you read other novels rooted in the deep south? Do you believe that the southern landscape has changed in modern culture, or is it changing still? Is this of significance? What do you think should be preserved of the “Old South” and what should be released to the past?2. Velma clings to the threads on her front porch. What do you believe that she needs from having the threads there? Do you have similar “threads” in your life? What do they provide you?3. Early in the novel, Velma is given an incredible gift from a mysterious stranger. A rock that allows her to travel back through time into her memories. Are there tangible things or places in your life that are touchstones - like Velma's rock - that elicit your memories? Do they require protection of any kind to keep them? How can you use your touchstones to help you appreciate your memories while living in the moment?4. Discussing what one has read is very important to Velma’s friend Sara, as she is hurt to discover that Velma actually read the copy of Moby Dick Sara loaned to her twenty years before. But Velma feels like the story loses something in the discussion. She says, “Talking about them isn’t going to change anything. Not gonna bring Moby back.” Why do you think Velma feels so apathetic about sharing with her friend?5. The gift of reliving memories plays a significant role in Saints in Limbo. If you were suddenly given this gift to re-experiencing portions of your past, how do you think you’d respond? Would you escape into your past, or avoid those experiences?6. Throughout the story, in the midst of everyday life, spiritual occurrences touch down and invade the natural world. Do you feel that the spiritual side of life has ever invaded, or overlapped, into your everyday world?7. A malevolent force tries to rob Velma of her ability to use her gift to gain wisdom from the experience, and to affect her future for the better. Do you believe a force, or forces, exist that attempt to stop the good things from happening, or certain destinies from being fulfilled?8. Velma's son Rudy appears to have wasted all his potential and seems to live an unremarkable life. What do you believe are the experiences that set Rudy’s course? By the end of the novel, do you feel that Rudy’s journey can be seen in a different light? What kind of future can you imagine for Rudy?9. Velma and Sara are best friends, even though they are different in almost every way. Are your friendships built around people who are much like yourself? If so, why? If not, how has this affected you?10. Annie's presence in Echo serves as a catalyst for several of the characters. Can you think of an experience with a person–friend, family member, or stranger– who served as a catalyst in your own life? Was it a positive or negative experience?11. Near the end of Saints in Limbo, Velma sees the man who brought her gift to her on her birthday, and she now finds that it’s gone. She says, “Looks like all I’ve got left now is today.” How do you think Velma feels about this? How does this phrase make you feel?12. Velma, Sara, Rudy, Rose, and Annie go through “stretching” experiences in the novel, testing them and challenging them to grow. Do you feel as if these characters have changed by the end of the story? Who has changed the most, and in what way?

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Saints in Limbo“River Jordan’s Saints in Limbo is a compelling story of the mysteries of existence and, especially, the mysteries of the human heart.”–RON RASH, author of Serena and Chemistry and Other Stories“River Jordan’s artful writing style is utterly captivating. Add to that the heartfelt, intriguing story line of Saints in Limbo, and you’re hooked.”–T. LYNN OCEAN, author of Sweet Home Carolina and the Jersey Barnes Mysteries “In the quiet of light and shadow, on what portends to be an ordinary day, miracles and magic envelop Velma True, a widow, a mother, and a lonely woman who does not suffer fools. Readers will care deeply about Velma’s life: her past, her present, her future, and her good heart. Saints in Limbo brims with truth and insists on hope. River Jordan has written a lyrical and relentlessly beautiful book.”–CONNIE MAY FOWLER, author of Before Women Had Wings and The Problem with Murmur Lee“Saints in Limbo is a lyrical and transcendent novel that will linger with me for years to come. I was entranced from start to finish.”–KARIN GILLESPIE, author of the Bottom Dollar Girls series“Strange as it sounds, River Jordan’s fascinating novel Saints in Limbo somehow reminded me of Walker Percy and Dean Koontz simultaneously. It’s that original. It’s that good. It’s a wise, funny, joyful, and deadly serious book. Saints in Limbo is the kind of story they ought to publish in leather-bound hardcover with gilded pages so you could leave it to your grandchildren.”–ATHOL DICKSON, author of River Rising and Winter Haven“Saints in Limbo is an elixir that combines two doses southern literary tradition and one dose magic realism. Jordan evokes elements of mystery and evil, wisdom and family, to make your heart surge and your skin tingle.”–KIM PONDERS, author of The Last Blue Mile “River Jordan’s words flat-out sing. Some pages of Saints in Limbo will soothe you with lullabies, others will reach inside you for the blues, but they’ll all pull you inside and slow your multitasking self down. Her stories court you to pace yourself and give them their due. It’s hard to close this novel without wondering why River Jordan isn’t a household name.”–SHELLIE RUSHING TOMLINSON, author of Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On:What Southern Mamas Tell Their Daughters That the Rest of Y’all Should Know Too and creator and host of All Things Southern“Mystical and magically written, Saints in Limbo is a beautiful novel. With its vivid characters and lush language, readers will find themselves thinking of Augusta Trobaugh’s Resting in the Bosom of the Lamb.”–MICHAEL MORRIS, author of A Place Called Wiregrass “River Jordan writes about love’s triumph over fear, reconciliation, and dissolving ancient hurts in words as lyrical as a poem. Her characters wriggle into your heart frompage one and will stay there long after you’ve regretfully finished the last page. Saints in Limbo is not only a tribute to the power of place and community but a rollicking good read as well.”–CHARLOTTE RAINS DIXON, director of The Writing Loft, Middle Tennessee State University“River Jordan’s written words are as poetic and captivating as her name, and her story, Saints in Limbo, is as powerful and healing as the River Jordan itself.”–DENISE HILDRETH, author of The Will of Wisteria“River Jordan practically sings her characters to life. Saints in Limbo is a triumph of the spirit and a reminder that there’smuchmore to life than meets the eye. Read this book to remind yourself that heaven can be found right here, right now.”–NICOLE SEITZ, author of A Hundred Years of Happiness, Trouble theWater, and The Spirit of Sweetgrass“Saints in Limbo reminds me of the adage ‘Life is not about the destination but the journey.’ In this case it’s not about the ending of the book but the telling of the story! The journey in River Jordan’s latest book is to savor every word, every sentence, and every paragraph.”–KATHY L. PATRICK, founder of the Pulpwood Queens Book Clubs and author of The Pulpwood Queens’ Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide to Life"River Jordan’s third novel is a Southern Gothic masterpiece." – Tina Fondren, Paste Magazine