Louise Erdrich meets Karen Russell in this deliciously strange and daringly original novel from Pulitzer Prize finalist Margaret Verble: set in 1926 Nashville, it follows a death-defying young Cherokee horse-diver who, with her companions from the Glendale Park Zoo, must get to the bottom of a mystery that spans centuries.
Two Feathers, a young Cherokee horse-diver on loan to Glendale Park Zoo from a Wild West show, is determined to find her own way in the world. Two’s closest friend at Glendale is Hank Crawford, who loves horses almost as much as she does. He is part of a high-achieving, land-owning Black family. Neither Two nor Hank fit easily into the highly segregated society of 1920s Nashville.
When disaster strikes during one of Two’s shows, strange things start to happen at the park. Vestiges of the ancient past begin to surface, apparitions appear, and then the hippo falls mysteriously ill. At the same time, Two dodges her unsettling, lurking admirer and bonds with Clive, Glendale’s zookeeper and a World War I veteran, who is haunted—literally—by horrific memories of war. To get to the bottom of it, an eclectic cast of park performers, employees, and even the wealthy stakeholders must come together, making When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky an unforgettable and irresistible tale of exotic animals, lingering spirits, and unexpected friendship.
About the Author
MARGARET VERBLE is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Her first novel, Maud’s Line, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her second novel, Cherokee America, has recently been listed by the New York Times as one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year for 2019. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky.
"Verble is an immensely gifted writer."—NPR.org
“In this fun, entertaining and highly informative historical novel, award-winning author Margaret Verble, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, surrounds Two Feathers' story with a concise history of the area and an in-depth look at the social culture and mores of the times… [Verble] will have you believing and cheering...Great fun.”—Florida Times-Union
“Through a joyful interweaving of pragmatic storytelling and spiritual realism, Pulitzer Prize finalist Margaret Verble breathes life into a bygone era…Combining meticulous research, a fresh point-of-view and vivid imagery, Verble’s third novel does what historical fiction does best: folds a compelling story into a snapshot of time before life changed.”—Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Alternatively funny and touching, this novel has a distinctly original and unconventional feel.”—Ms. Magazine
“[An] expansive and well-researched historical work.”—Buzzfeed
“Fans of Karen Russell will love this spellbinding new story from Pulitzer Prize–finalist Margaret Verble.”—Country Living
“A compelling, haunting read full of history.”—Alma
"Verble beautifully weaves period details with the cast’s histories, and enthralls with the supernatural elements, which are made as real for the reader as they are for the characters. This lands perfectly."—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
"This utterly memorable, beautifully written story will linger with readers."—Booklist, STARRED review
"An ambitious novel that’s impressive in its scope and concept: Glendale Park Zoo and the 101 are rife with narrative possibility and give the author a chance to examine a fascinating cross section of race and class."—Kirkus
"Effectively deploying her diverse cast of characters, Verble—an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma—captures the complex social interactions of the time. From race relations to social class to working conditions, Verble addresses key issues while spinning her ghost story around the fictionalized employees of a park that actually existed...Readers of general fiction will enjoy."—Library Journal
"A remarkably fresh, beautifully written novel...This is a substantial book, hard to put down."—Worcester Magazine
“Two Feathers, tough and warmhearted, clear-eyed and funny, captivates from the first striking scene. Margaret Verble has created a remarkable world, rich with vibrant characters and layered histories, long obscured, that emerge to shape their lives in surprising, thought-provoking, and moving ways.”
—Kim Edwards, bestselling author of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and The Lake of Dreams
“Two Feathers Fell from the Sky is a rich and lively novel, steeped in place and history. Verble’s meticulous research and generosity of spirit shine through, lending her characters and their adventures a fullness that lingers.”
—Kelli Jo Ford, author of Crooked Hallelujah and winner of the Plimpton Prize
Praise for Margaret Verble
“Verble has given historical fiction lovers a real gift.”
—New York Times Book Review
“Margaret Verble is an exceptional storyteller.”
—Ron Rash, author of Serena
“[Margaret Verble] gives careful consideration to place, having spent a lot of time on these lands, rivers, and streams, and through direct encounters with all the inhabitants of this place—both people and animals, their natures and behaviors. This is all rich source material that informs her writing.”
—National Museum of the American Indianmagazine
“Margaret Verble’s voice is utterly authentic, tender and funny, vivid and smart, and she creates a living community.”
—Roxana Robinson, author of Sparta
“[Margaret Verble writes] as though Daniel Woodrell nods over one shoulder and the spirit of Willa Cather over the other.”
—Malcolm Brooks, author of Painted Horses