Radio Bristol Book Club: The Ballad of Tom Dooley - The Birthplace of Country Music
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Radio Bristol Book Club: The Ballad of Tom Dooley

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club! Readers from BCM and the Bristol Public Library are coming together each month to celebrate and explore one book inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage. We invite you to read along and then listen in on the fourth Thursday of each month at 11—11:30am when we will dig deep into the feelings and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm!

The book for August is The Ballad of Tom Dooley by Sharyn McCrumb, and we will be discussing this fictional re-telling of the real-life murder of Laura Foster in 1865 in North Carolina. Join us as we discuss The Ballad of Tom Dooley on August 22 at 11am on Radio Bristol – locally on 100.1 FM or via the website or app.

The Ballad of Tom Dooley cover shows a woman in 1800s dress from the back -- she is standing in a field looking towards the mountains in the distance.
Cover of The Ballad of Tom Dooley from

Upon returning home from the Civil War, Tom Dula finds himself on trial for the murder of his lover, Laura Foster. Dula is convicted and hanged for his crime, but there is much more to this story than just one of star-crossed lovers and scorned women. With this book, Sharyn McCrumb set out to write a fictionalized version of the events that were made famous by the song “Tom Dooley,” with the most well-known version by The Kingston Trio. However, her research helped to find a missing piece of the story that changed everything everyone thought they knew about Laura’s murder.

Sharyn McCrumb, who lives and writes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, has published over 25 novels, along with short stories and contributions to non-fiction works. McCrumb’s books celebrate the beauty and tragedy of Appalachian history and culture. Her stories, particularly in her Ballad series, are rich and full of the legend and richness that we know Appalachia to have. The Ballad of Tom Dooley has all of this richness and more, and has often been called an Appalachian Wuthering Heights.

We cannot wait to share our thoughts on The Ballad of Tom Dooley with all of our listeners at Radio Bristol Book Club! We hope you can join us as we discuss this beautiful and tragic story of love and betrayal. You can pick up a copy at your favorite local bookstore or stop by the Bristol Public Library and check out a copy today! The librarians at the Bristol Public Library will be happy to help you find a copy of the book in any format that suits you best, from book to audiobook, and even e-books.

Make plans to join us at 11am on Thursday, August 22 for Radio Bristol Book Club!

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