Born and raised in East Tennessee, Janet Beard moved to New York to study screenwriting at NYU and went on to earn an MFA in creative writing from The New School. Her first novel, 'Beneath the Pines', was published in 2008, and her follow-up, 'The Atomic City Girls' became an international bestseller 2018. Janet's latest novel, 'The Ballad of Laurel Springs', was released in 2021. Janet has lived and worked in Australia, England, Boston, and Columbus, Ohio, where she is currently raising a daughter and working on a new novel. She is the recipient of a 2022 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award in Fiction.
The Ballad of Laurel Springs
Ten-year-old Grace is in search of a subject for her fifth-grade history project when she learns that her four times-great grandfather once stabbed his lover to death. His grisly act was memorialized in a murder ballad, her aunt tells her, so it must be true. But the lessons of that revelation—to be careful of men and desire—are not just Grace’s to learn. Her family’s tangled past is part of a dark legacy in which the lives of generations of women are affected by the violence immortalized in folk songs like “Knoxville Girl” and “Pretty Polly” reminding them always to know their place—or risk the wages of sin.
Janet Beard’s stirring novel, informed by her love of these haunting ballads, vividly imagines these women, defined by the secrets they keep, the surprises they uncover, and the lurking sense of menace that follows them throughout their lives even as they try to make a safe place in the world for themselves.