"I was struck by the tenacity and realism of the text's characters. As an editor of many aspiring and experienced authors, I fully recommend this engaging novel!"
Krista E. Callahan-Caudill, English Lecturer, University of Kentucky
"Being of these hills I cannot pass beyond," James Still wrote in his 1935 poem, "Heritage". The poem has come to symbolize the great longing, affection and attachment which Kentuckians have for their native state, a bond which always seems to pull us home.
In her debut novel, The Third Floor, Leigh M. Rose has created a character that all Kentuckians can identify with, a woman who, despite all her success, realizes she is always longing for a place where she belongs. Leslie Newkirk longs for Winchester, with its "Victorian storefronts and the sidewalks...elevated above the street level." Leslie summered with her grandparents there during a childhood perhaps not that different from our own, swimming in the Kentucky River and learning, always learning, what it means to be a Kentuckian.
At thirty-four, Leslie is now a woman of some wealth. Disenchanted with corporate success and life in Chicago, she buys a Victorian home in Winchester and looks forward to reacquainting herself with the only place she's ever truly called home. She quickly learns, however, that there's something not quite right with the otherwise charming house built by a Major Nathan Weatherly in 1887. In fact, Leslie soon learns that the family she bought the house from didn't just sell it to her: they literally fled from it.
Again there was the sound, somewhere to her right, at the end of the hall, the end of the hall where her bedroom was. Here goes. Leslie swiftly and quietly walked down the hall with the poker held tightly in her hand in a striking position. When she reached her bedroom-nothing. She listened for a moment. She could now hear more clearly; the sound wasn't coming from her bedroom; it was on the third floor. It was the sound of someone crying...
How Leslie responds, and why, forms the basis of this intriguing debut novel. "Keep them guessing; it makes life interesting," she thinks at one point. Actually, those words might have been spoken by the author herself, who demonstrates a considerable talent for telling a story which quickly becomes hard to put down. With The Third Floor, Leigh M. Rose has delivered a novel a novel which certainly makes life interesting, a novel which leaves us-to use that word again-longing for more.