A labor of love

Walker County native publishes her first novel

By JENNIFER COHRON, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 12/24/17

An abandoned cat that slowly came to accept human kindness inspired the plot for “Patchwork Love,” the first novel from Jasper native Linda Lou Burton.

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A labor of love

Walker County native publishes her first novel

Posted

An abandoned cat that slowly came to accept human kindness inspired the plot for “Patchwork Love,” the first novel from Jasper native Linda Lou Burton.

Burton dedicated the book to Katy, a white part-Siamese kitten that was left behind by her mother when she was four weeks old.

After rescuing Katy, Burton was shocked by the cat’s behavior.

“This was the worst cat I’d ever seen. She growled. She bit. She was just awful,” Burton said.

Burton’s attitude changed once she realized that Katy’s reaction was the result of being abandoned.

Though her emotional scars have not completely healed, Katy has mellowed and now enjoys afternoon naps and snuggles on the couch.

In the dedication to “Patchwork Love,” Burton said their experience underscored her belief that everyone has a choice in responding to challenges and tragedy.

“The more I thought about it, the more I thought, ‘What about people who have this kind of thing happen to them?’ As I continued to struggle with this cat, these characters started to come into my head,” Burton said.

The cast of characters in “Patchwork Love” includes an author who has become a hermit after suffering a tragic loss, a one-eyed dog and two children who have been hurt and abandoned in the woods.

The story is told from the point of view of over a dozen characters, all of whom have been damaged in some way.

“I tried to tell their story simply, the way Kent Haruf does in ‘Plainsong.’ Flawed we may be, but we don’t need to be perfect,” Burton said.

“Patchwork Love” tackles a range of difficult topics, including death, sexual violence and domestic violence and concludes with a resource section that provides information about groups such as the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

Though the novel is set in Arkansas, the businesses that populated downtown Jasper receive several mentions.

Burton was born in Walker County Hospital and worked at the courthouse as a teenager. She graduated from Walker High School in 1957 and was married in Jasper’s First Baptist Church.

Though she moved away shortly thereafter, “Jasper never left my soul,” Burton said.

“Patchwork Love” is available on Amazon.