Under the Oak with Agnes - Jed Smith Debut Novel

Five years in the making, Under the Oak with Agnes is now available!

Living in Italy these past 10+ years has given me the time and heart space to write this novel. While this story is set in the South (North Carolina mostly), I believe its central theme is universal.

I’ve been nervous about putting myself “out there” in such a deeply personal way. We all know, don’t we, that even works of fiction say something about the author?

A glowing review from Kirkus Reviews provided the encouragement I needed to bring Under the Oak with Agnes to light.

“… a glimpse of the proverbial path not traveled despite its enticing offerings. Earnest and thoughtfully executed, this book shines a light on all of the phantom lives that are merely assemblages of the ghosts of expectations; it is, at its simplest, a reminder that “livin’ for certainty just keeps life flat.”

A thoughtful, tender meditation on mortality and transformation. — Kirkus Reviews

This is a novel (with a few twists and turns) about a man’s willingness to dismantle the status quo.

Under the Oak with Agnes begins with Emory Harrell, the main character, on the precipice of his mother’s death. This is the pivotal event, one that he has long feared, that catapults him out of his tidy, successful, and well-controlled life.

Death has a way of shaking things up.

Within eight months of moving to Italy, I lost my dear, dear mother (and lifelong art teacher). My own subsequent journey of grieving, reflection, and undoing a conditioned life began, as it does for Emory, with losing my biggest and best cheerleader in life. Apart from this, this novel is a story all its own, and not an autobiography.

A synopsis for Under the Oak with Agnes:

“Death might just be the single biggest piece of dynamite that can come along for a person. It can blow a life apart. It can also blow things wide open. There’s a difference.”

These are the words that Agnes, an unassuming hospice aide, offers to accomplished attorney Emory Harrell in the wake of his mother’s passing. In his profound grief, Emory is invited to dispense with conventional wisdom as he searches for wholeness and dares to challenge the status quo of his seemingly ideal life. At Agnes’s urging, he volunteers at the hospice house where his mother died. There, Emory meets four very different people who are in their last days—a teenage girl with a wisdom well beyond her years, a long-haul truck driver with a surprising past, a fundamentalist minister estranged from his son, and an elderly woman lost in dementia.

Emory’s journey faces many twists, turns, and challenges—not the least of which are the efforts of the woman who is supposed to love him most, yet connives to keep him safely under the sphere of her control and away from the truth he seeks.

Now available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle editions!

Under the Oak with Agnes is also available on most other Amazon platforms including Amazon.it, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, and more. I hope you’ll take a chance on my debut novel and get to know Emory and Agnes (she’s pretty remarkable)!