I’ve long been a fan of O’Connor’s short stories, so I was intrigued by the prospect of reading this, her first novel. Many of the familiar elements are here – religion (though it’s a vast oversimplification to see that this – or any of her work – is just about religion), the south, remarkable characters. There’s a Carson McCullers feel here, since the action is all set in one place, and the perspective shifts. O’Connor’s writing is as sharp as it is sometimes strange. There’s violence not only in the physical sense, but in the way her characters live her lives. O’Connor writes so that you can see her people, not that you’d want to have anything to do with them. I really wonder how this was first received in 1949. After a quick search, I can’t find any original reviews, but I am curious to see the movie version (directed by John Huston). In the end, I prefer the short stories; this is a puzzling, foundational novel. You can see O’Connor trying things out, ideas she’d go on to refine in her short stories.