There’s a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “A woman is like a tea bag- you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” This is certainly the case with Mrs. Eleanor Robbins.
The book opens with a description of a Dumb Supper that several young girls have staged to try to find out who they will marry. While it was interesting to hear about what a Dumb Supper is and what it’s supposed to accomplish, it was also slow-moving and made it a little hard to get into the book.
Things start to pick up with the when the plot turns to Albert and Eleanor Robbins. Poor Ellie is at her husband’s deathbed. He was elected Sheriff only a short time before. Now he has contracted pneumonia.
When she is widowed, Ellie doesn’t want to go back to live with her brother-in-law and his wife. Knowing she has to provide for her 2 boys, she approaches a county commissioner and works on convincing him that she can finish out the term of her husband’s employ as sheriff. What follows is a description of how her time goes as Sheriff in this 1936 small, rural town in Appalachia.
Things progress smoothly until a man decides to kill his wife. As the turn of events unfolds, Ellie becomes responsible for his execution.
I listened to this as an audiobook read by Candace Thaxton. There are times her voice falls kind of flat and I wonder if that was for effect or if that’s just the way she speaks.
Mrs. Robbins is an interesting character. Ellie is a good wife and mother, but kind of shy and reluctant to talk to strangers. It’s not until Albert dies that she finds the strength to do things she never could picture herself doing like going to the county commissioner and asking for Albert’s job. She also finds the strength to stand up to her brother-in-law when he and his wife show up with the notion of taking her and her children back up the mountain to live with them. It’s this previously hidden strength that serves Mrs. Robbins well in her time as Sheriff.
The book also has sections devoted to developing the character and plot of the murderer and his deed. These are interesting, but because I was listening to the book instead of reading it maybe, I found it a little confusing at first when the book changed the focus to him.
The pace is slow at times, but I found once I got past the Dumb Supper and Albert’s death, it mostly moves along well enough. You want to know what happens next. I give this audiobook 3 out of 5 stars. I liked it, but it was so slow in parts and a little confusing at times. It might be clearer reading a hard copy.
Prayers the Devil Answers is considered #11 in the Ballad series by Sharyn McCrumb and was released on audiobook May 2016 from Simon and Schuster Audio. I borrowed my copy from my local library.