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West of New Orleans among a few small Gulf islands lies the Isle aux Chiens, a tiny, impoverished strip of land burdened by intolerable heat and roaming packs of wild dogs. Here a handful of Creole families eke out a meager existence by fishing the Gulf waters. Such is the fate of Al Landry and his seventeen-year-old daughter, Annie. All Annie has ever known is the wild sea, but she longs for other people and places, including the glamor of life in the Big Easy. When a cruel, handsome man from the city passes through, he kindles Annie’s fantasies for a life beyond the island. Soon, the young girl faces a decision: Remain planted in the predictable life she has always known, or toss it all aside for her dreamed-of adventure.

The Hard Blue Sky is Grau’s debut novel, establishing her as a chronicler of bayou life and the complexities of the Deep South’s most impoverished corners.

©1955, Shirley AnnGrau (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

“A large and delicately colored panorama of summertime on a hot and lonely island off the coast of Louisiana.” (The New Yorker)

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  • P. VanGesen
  • 08-12-17

Not to My Taste

What disappointed you about The Hard Blue Sky?

I did not relate to the story nor did I enjoy it.

What was most disappointing about Shirley Ann Grau’s story?

Nothing specific

What does Luci Christian Bell bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I probably would not have gone as far as I did in the book had I been reading it.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Probably true to life for some people or at least of interest, just not me.

Any additional comments?


  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Avidlistener
  • 29-10-16

Disappointing ending

I was engrossed in the almost ethnographically detailed depiction of life on
this Louisiana island when it came to an abrupt and unsatisfying end. What a disappointment!