Do you remember reading Christy, Catherine Marshall’s 1967 novel about a young woman who moved to the Smokey Mountains in 1912 to teach school, and who came to know and love the people who lived in that region, people whose culture was much different than the one in which she was raised? It is a story that once read will live in your heart forever. Ann Gabhart’s 2017 novel about a young woman who moved to the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky as World War II was ending to join the Frontier Nursing Service resonates in one’s heart in much the same way, as she too comes to know and love the mountain people. Gabhart’s writing reflects her own love of the people of her home state, both in These Healing Hills and many of her previous novels set in small town, Kentucky.
Francine Howard, stifled by an overbearing mother, and jilted by the man she expected to marry, sees the opportunity to join the Frontier Nursing Service and to train at its midwifery school as a way to not only escape an uncomfortable situation, but also as a way to discover herself. She did not foresee the love she would experience for the people who lived in the Eastern Kentucky mountains, nor for the very mountains themselves. A love that would far outweigh the pleasures of the modern conveniences which she would leave behind. Francine is one of those rare people who sees past stereotypes into the hearts of people, a trait we sorely need in today’s society.
These Healing Hills is a heartwarming story, one that I would most highly recommend. I thank NetGalley and Revell Books for providing me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for providing the review.