A Parchment of Leaves
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4.18 / 5

"A Parchment of Leaves" Summary

By Silas House

fiction | 304 pages | Published in NaN

Winner-Kentucky Novel of the Year, 2003Winner-Award for Special Achievement from Fellowship of Southern WritersNominee-Southern Book Critics Circle PrizeNominee-BookSense Book of the Year (longlist)"So it is that Vine, Cherokee-born and raised in the early 1900s, trains her eye on a young white man, forsaking her family and their homeland to settle in with Saul's people: his smart-as-a-whip, slow-to-love mother, Esme; his brother Aaron, a gifted banjo player, hot tempered and unpredictable; and Aaron's flightly and chattery Melungeon wife, Aidia." It's a delicate negotiation into this new family and culture, one that Vine's mother had predicted would not go smoothly. But it's worse than she could have imagined. Vine is viewed as an outsider by the townspeople. Aaron, she slowly realizes, is strangely fixated on her. But what is at first difficult becomes a test of her spirit. And in the violent turn of events that ensues, she learns what it means to forgive others and, most important, how to forgive herself.


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A young Cherokee woman in rural Kentucky finds herself torn between two cultures and two men in this lyrical novel.


"A Parchment of Leaves" by Silas House is a poignant novel that delves into the life of a young Cherokee woman, Vine, as she navigates the complexities of love, culture, and societal expectations in the early 20th century rural Kentucky. House's lyrical prose and vivid storytelling bring to life the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains and the struggles of the Cherokee people, making this novel a captivating and thought-provoking read.

Brief Synopsis

Plot Overview

The novel is set in the early 1900s in rural Kentucky, where Vine, a young Cherokee woman, lives with her family. Vine's life takes a dramatic turn when she meets and falls in love with Saul, a young man from the mountains. As their forbidden love blossoms, Vine must confront the prejudices of her community and the challenges of preserving her Cherokee heritage in a rapidly changing world.


The story unfolds in the picturesque backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains, where nature plays a central role in shaping the lives of the characters. The rustic beauty of the mountains provides a stark contrast to the societal tensions and personal conflicts that drive the narrative forward.

Main Characters

The novel features a cast of compelling characters whose lives intertwine to create a rich tapestry of human emotions and experiences.

VineA young Cherokee woman with a deep connection to her heritage and the natural world.
SaulA young man from the mountains who falls in love with Vine, defying societal norms.
RedfordVine's father, a traditional Cherokee man struggling to adapt to the changing times.
BellVine's mother, a resilient woman who embodies the strength of Cherokee culture.
ClydeVine's cousin, whose actions have a profound impact on Vine's life.

Summary of Different Story Points Over Chapters

Chapter 1-4

Vine's daily life in the mountains, her deep bond with nature, and her growing curiosity about the world beyond her community.

Chapter 5-8

The introduction of Saul and the blossoming of their forbidden romance, despite the disapproval of their families and the community.

Chapter 9-12

Challenges and conflicts arise as Vine and Saul's relationship is tested by societal prejudices and personal sacrifices.

Chapter 13-16

The impact of Clyde's actions on Vine's life and the deepening of Vine's connection to her Cherokee heritage.

Chapter 17-20

The resolution of Vine and Saul's love story, and the profound impact of their choices on their families and community.

Main Events

  1. Vine's encounters with Saul in the mountains.
  2. The growing tension between Vine's Cherokee heritage and the changing world around her.
  3. The unfolding of Vine and Saul's forbidden love story and its consequences.
  4. The catalyst event involving Clyde that transforms Vine's life and relationships.
  5. The resolution of Vine and Saul's love story and its aftermath on the characters and the community.

Themes and Insights


  1. Forbidden Love: The novel explores the theme of forbidden love and the societal barriers that challenge the authenticity of personal relationships.
  2. Cultural Identity: Vine's struggle to preserve her Cherokee heritage in the face of societal pressures reflects the theme of cultural identity and the clash between tradition and modernity.
  3. Nature and Spirituality: The profound connection to nature and spirituality is a recurring theme, highlighting the characters' deep reverence for the natural world.


The novel provides insight into the complexities of human emotions, the resilience of cultural heritage, and the enduring power of love to transcend societal norms.

Reader's Takeaway

Readers of "A Parchment of Leaves" will be captivated by the lyrical prose, the evocative portrayal of Appalachian life, and the timeless themes of love, identity, and tradition. The novel's exploration of the human spirit and the beauty of nature leaves a lasting impression on the reader, inviting contemplation on the universal experiences that shape our lives.


In "A Parchment of Leaves," Silas House delivers a compelling narrative that immerses readers in the world of Vine, a young Cherokee woman grappling with love, cultural heritage, and societal expectations. Through rich storytelling and vibrant characters, House weaves a tapestry of human emotions and experiences set against the backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains. This novel is a testament to the enduring power of love, the resilience of cultural identity, and the timeless connection between humanity and nature.

A Parchment of Leaves FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'A Parchment of Leaves'?

    The genre of 'A Parchment of Leaves' is historical fiction.

  2. Who is the author of 'A Parchment of Leaves'?

    The author of 'A Parchment of Leaves' is Silas House.

  3. What is the setting of 'A Parchment of Leaves'?

    The book is set in rural Kentucky in the early 1900s.

  4. What is the main theme of 'A Parchment of Leaves'?

    The main themes of the book include love, nature, and the clash between different cultures.

  5. What is the story about in 'A Parchment of Leaves'?

    The story follows a young Cherokee woman named Vine, her relationship with a white man, and the challenges they face in their community.