Incredibly Refreshing “Indigo Field” by Marjorie Hudson Transports Readers

by Allie Coker

So rich it feels like you’ve been transported to Indigo Field

Indigo Field and author Marjorie Hudson

Buried Bones, Silent Burdens:

Community Healing in Marjorie Hudson’s Indigo Field

While the main characters of this novel—Rand Lee, Reba Jones, and Jolene Blake—are seemingly disconnected at the start of the book, they all experience profound grief simultaneously.  Rand, a former army colonel living in Stonehaven Downs, the social but sleepy retirement community near Gooley Pines and Indigo Field, grapples with the unexpected loss of his wife, Anne. Reba, still reeling from the murder of her niece, Danielle, 18 months prior, seeks a sense of justice, and Jolene presses on years after a freak accident took her beloved husband’s life. 

The women continue the best they know how. Jolene works at Spill Creek Farm and is raising 19-year-old Bobo who needs her more than the average son. Reba is tending the Black Angels in her yard, emblems of the departed spirits of all her family who have passed. Rand, however, lacking the ability to cope without Anne, swerves from fighting with his adult children, Carrie and Jeff, to taking a trip to the mountains, to wanting to give up on life altogether. Reba keeps her family members’ ashes in brightly colored tins just as each of the characters grieves in a vacuum before their stories begin to intertwine. 

Reba, against her better judgment, takes in TJ, the 14 year old son of Danielle’s boyfriend/murderer, since his father has gone to jail and the boy has no other relatives. When Reba and Rand have a literal run-in during one of Rand’s jogs and the archaeologically significant remains of Indians are found near Indigo Field, the story takes surprising turns of overlapping lives, past and present.

If The Spirit Moves You

The spirits of the dead do a lot of moving in this tale of generational trauma and community healing. While the reader is first introduced to the primary living characters, the absence and memory of those who have passed quickly becomes a strong presence in Hudson’s narrative. 

Danielle’s ghost speaks to Reba who, in turn, tells her stories like when she was a little girl. Reba’s recollections are about growing up with her older sister, Sheba, and the centenarian Indian woman, named Old Lucy, who lived nearby and guided them. The drama in “Indigo Field” plays out on land originally belonging to the Tuscarora Indians. Reba, who has Tuscarora blood and was taught by Old Lucy in the traditional ways of herbs, spells, and burials throughout her youth, remains one of the last direct connections. Old Lucy’s spirit is fierce and protective of the land and Reba often invokes the power of “Tussie” Lucy as well as her own long dead sister.  

One could argue it’s the spirits that want to see the deeply buried transgressions come to light in this narrative as the literal skeletons are exposed one by one. In the same way that living families shape a person and a story, so too do the deceased relatives of all the book’s main characters. 

Flying Away

Many characters in this evocative story yearn to fly away. Rand’s version of escapism appears in the form of wishing to abandon his present life for a trip with no final destination. His grown son, Jeff, hops from one graduate program to the next in what Anne (his mother) identified as self-sabotage because of fear of failure. Meanwhile, TJ dreams of fleeing to California in fear that if he remains in Gooley Pines his father will escape jail and find him. The theme of flight is also carried by the birds Rand and Anne keep as pets and Rand’s passion for spotting wild birds and their unusual migration patterns. 

TJ and Bobo develop a friendship despite dealing with different obstacles. TJ, overcome with hatred for his father who killed Reba’s niece, Danielle, struggles to prove to his schoolmates and Reba that he is a good egg. Bobo, a joy to all, often reckons with things (guns, condoms) that he doesn’t quite understand because of his Down syndrome, but he prides himself on being a man who helps Jolene with many tasks on the farm and who has an affinity with animals. Instead of running away from their all too real problems, the characters, by force or by choice, become more embedded in each other’s lives and community over time. 

The Power of Second Chances

Whether it’s starting over with a new pet, new lover, or new opportunity to parent, the impossible messes that can no longer be fixed by these characters, the ways in which life has trapped them, fall away the more they lean on each other and are active participants in each other’s lives.

There is great violence and turmoil inflicted on these characters, but also great kindnesses. It’s a story rife with generational trauma. Whether neglected and abused or massively disapproved of, the argument of nature versus nurture is highlighted by the characters’ attempts to try their best to claw their way out from their past mistakes or sins visited upon them by their fathers. But above all, it is their healing through interdependence that proves people who need people may, in fact, be the luckiest.

“Indigo Field” is incredibly refreshing with an unpredictable plot and finely tuned details, dialogue, and inner thoughts so rich it feels like you’ve been transported to the Gooley Pines. The narrative is also a testament to the fact that not all secrets are beneficial to share—there’s a certain mercy and justice to the heavy yet deftly handled burdens that Hudson reveals throughout the novel. She is highly capable of capturing that which is cruel versus cruel to be kind. This novel will have you searching for her next book.

~ Allie Coker

About The Author Marjorie Hudson

Indigo Field author Marjorie Hudson

Award-winning author Marjorie Hudson was born in the Midwest, raised in Washington, DC, and now makes her home in North Carolina. She is author of Indigo Field, Accidental Birds of the Carolinas (stories) and Searching for Virginia Dare (history/travelogue), and her essays and stories plumb the depths of the human heart. She lives on a century farm with her husband Sam and dog DJ, where she mentors writers and reads poetry to trees.

You can find and follow Marjorie Hudson on her website, on Facebook, Instagram, and X.

Other Titles By Marjorie Hudson

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