When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky is a noteworthy story about the souls of animals, friendships that surprise us, and spirits that linger behind on stolen land.
When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky by Margaret Verble, Mariner Books
In the early 20th century, horse-diving became a thrilling attraction in places like Atlantic City. A horse and its diver would jump from a boardwalk, sometimes, 40-60 feet high, sending applause throughout the audience as they hit the 11 feet deep pool. Yes. It seems unreal that this took place, but this is the very real business Margaret Verble’s new book is based around.
It is 1920s Nashville, a segregated world, especially for Two Feathers, a young Cherokee horse-diver and her good friend and colleague, Hank Crawford, a Black man who tends to her horse to prepare for the dives. Margaret Verble, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for her early novel Maud’s Line, paints a world where the land is imprinted by the past, souls of the animals are felt, and the world is trying to be understood by the individuals trying to claim it or work to get by. Glendale Park Zoo hires Two Feathers from a Wild West show hoping to attract more visitors with her act. Two Feathers, who is just trying to make a living as one of the zoo's top performers, becomes the object of desire for a questionable and obsessive admirer. As she navigates this unwanted attention, one of her dives goes awry. Afterwards, strange happenings begin to emerge in the park.
Verble gives these characters, including the animals, souls that lift right off the page. She also gives the land a presence, so you understand how it went from being occupied by Native American families to being stolen, claimed, and desecrated when the white man arrived. This book is incredibly difficult to put down once you open the cover. You enter into a world where each character is complex, diving into their emotions and views of their worlds and circumstances. When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky is a noteworthy story about the souls of animals, friendships that surprise us, and spirits that linger behind on stolen land.