“The Legend of Joe Edge” by J. Rivers Hodge and Brenda Hodge begins with Joe Edge’s family trying to get away from the calamity caused by the Civil War. The family heads down to Sarasota, Florida to take advantage of a settlement act that will grant them 160 acres of land. It is mostly just wilderness down there, but the family hopes to survive and be safe. The Edges settle on to some property that has a giant alligator already residing there. There is also a vicious vine called “cat’s claw,” that covers much of the area. Their old jealous neighbor and his comely, insatiable bride also increase the risks of living there. Joe’s father gets into business making whiskey. For the most part, the people in the surrounding area are pretty rough. There is however, a beautiful intelligent young lady who not only captures Joe’s eye, but also his heart. Her wealthy father is not very happy about her interest in this uneducated poor man.
Joe, however, has a lot more going for him than one would expect. He has been gifted with heroism. This is not a common gift. When Joe helps save his father’s life from a wild cat, his dad embellishes the story. Then there is a giant, man-killing wild boar that Joe kills with a hatchet. Once again the story is a bit embellished, but as time goes on, Joe continues to prove himself to be a legend. Unfortunately, in spite of this, life is not easy for his family. They suffer tremendous losses and some decisions that were made before moving to Florida, have severely affected his mom’s mental well-being. Repeated tragedies soon force her to the edge of her own sanity.
There are other characters that play major roles in this tale as well. Some of them are pretty conniving, and others down-right evil. Each one has their own trials to go through; from the woman who starts a house of pleasure, to the cannibalistic, deformed man who wants her dead. “The Legend of Joe Edge” tells a fascinating tale that makes this huge book hard to put down, and I was sad when it ended. Hopefully, more legends will follow Joe’s story so that readers will continue to enjoy the writing talents of J. Rivers Hodge and Brenda Hodge.