Sallie Kincaid is the daughter Duke Kincaid, a wealthy man who owns or runs most of Claiborne County, Virginia. At the Emporium general store he owes, the Duke also sells bootleg whiskey he has received in lieu of rent. Sallie is the daughter of his second wife, who is deceased. She adores her father and his bigger than life personality. His third wife, Jane has a son, Eddie. When she is eight-years-old an accident involving three-year-old Eddie results in, at the behest of Jane, the Duke banishing Sallie to go live with her Aunt Faye.
Nine years later, Jane has died and Sallie is immediately brought back into the family by Duke, ostensibly to teach Eddie. Now, however, Sallie understands more of the world full of secrets, conflicts, and scandals around her and her family. She is determined to never marry and make her own way into the family rental property and bootlegging empire, while navigating the conflicts. Duke quickly marries his fourth wife and life becomes much more complicated following this decision.
The writing is wonderful and the plot is compelling. I was fully engaged in this family drama and the many surprising turns and the surprising revelations within the narrative. There is a tangle of family intrigue, complications, questionable morals, and hidden secrets in Hang the Moon. Even when the many complexities seem to be over the top, the fact that the plot was inspired by the life of Elizabeth I of England, daughter of Henry VIII makes it even better. History buffs will be able to pick up on the similarities to Tudor England.
Sallie is a great fully realized, intelligent, and complex character. Walls portrays both her strengths and weaknesses. She can be fearless, reckless, stubborn, and outspoken, but she is also damaged. Due to the many characters, not all of them are as developed as Sallie, but they all still resemble real people with very different personalities and proclivities. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Scribner via NetGalley.