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Christy Kindle Edition
"Depth of Lies" by E. C. Diskin
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I never could get the girls interested in any of Grandma's old books, but when an opportunity to review and promote Christy for the 50th anniversary came open I jumped. It's a classic. My girls NEED to read it. But my fifteen year old got scared off by the thickness and the first person point of view. My twelve year old is a reluctant reader.
So that means I get to read the book out loud to my daughters. And we are, a chapter a day. The girls stop what they are doing, listen to the story and at the end of a chapter beg for another, but i don't have time to read all day long -- and especially not out loud. I caught my reluctant reader picking it up and reading ahead (until she got scared off by some of the old words, and big words). Both girls are falling in love with Christy as I did, and now they want to watch the DVD which is on our shelf, even though I remind them the movie is always different than the book.
They, like I did, are falling in love with the young Christy and are amazed and shocked and humbled by her adventures, struggles, and experiences.
With this new release, Christy is available to a whole new generation of readers and I'm sure they will get as much enjoyment out of it as the original group fifty years ago got.
Grab your copy of Christy now. This will also make a great gift for a reader on your holiday list.
Reading this newly released 50th anniversary edition was a true joy for me. It's wrapped in thick layers of generational storytelling, with a foreword from Catherine Marshall's children and a prologue from the author about how the novel is based on the life of her own mother, Leonora Whitaker Wood. At age 19, both Leonora and her fictional counterpart Christy left home in North Carolina to teach poverty-stricken children in the Smoky mountains of Tennessee. The novel takes place in the year 1912, though Marshall's mother served in the mission house from 1909-1912. The inside cover of this beautiful new edition contains a detailed hand-drawn map of Cutter Gap, Tennessee which shows important literary landmarks.
Christy Huddleston feels as if she’s transported back in time to another world. The Smoky Mountain community of Cutter Gap is trapped by poverty, superstitions, and a fierce clan-like nature that leads to grudges and feuding, often settled by shotgun. I was immediately captivated by the dangerous plot Christy becomes involved in, as the people battle one crisis after another: accidents, disease, wounded pride, and violence.
Thankfully, she is mentored by Alice Henderson, a wise Quaker woman who rides on horseback throughout the mountains, bringing faith and courage to several local communities. Unexpectedly, the novel also becomes a love story, when Christy meets the handsome young minister, David Grantland. Yet she is also intrigued by the local physician, Dr. Neil MacNeil, whose difficult labors often involve sudden life or death circumstances.
Though the plotline is often action-packed, I enjoyed Catherine Marshall’s lyrical writing, where she describes the natural beauty of each season in the mountains, especially as Christy befriends a local woman, Fairlight Spencer. The pages are also full of poetry, as the children begin memorizing great works of literature, such as when young Isaak McHone asks, “Kin I learn it by heart, Teacher? All of it?” the first time he hears Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan.”
The barefoot children have such a passion for learning, part of the plot involves Christy reaching out to the wealthy for donations of school texts, and her hard work of letter writing yields such treasures as a Lyon and Healy grand piano delivered to the mission house. Yet she encounters others who are angry at her infringement on the local community, especially when David begins preaching against the evils of “White Lightning,” the moonshine secretly brewed by local mountain men.
Reading the novel Christy for the first time is similar to how a reader feels when first encountering Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. It’s not just a book; it’s a phenomenon. The novel became a bestseller when it was originally published in 1967, then it was transformed into a TV series in the mid-90s starring Kellie Martin and Tyne Daly, and was later developed into three feature-length films. There’s an annual festival which celebrates the work every year in Townsend and Del Rio, Tennessee, where the novel was set, called ChristyFest. There’s also an award named after the novel, the Christy Award, which annually honors the most distinguished works of fiction written from a Christian faith perspective.
After I finished the book, I was of course curious as to how much of the book was true, and how much was fiction. I found several good articles online, and I plan to continue exploring the interesting history of the Appalachians. This is definitely a book I'd like for my children to read, and it's one I'll read again when I want to go back in time to a simpler way of life. I found the TV series is available to view online, but I'm a bit frustrated that the three feature-length movies aren't available for rental, and the used DVDs are expensive to purchase. I hope they'll be made available soon for readers who want to see the stories come to life through film.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review from Litfuse. All opinions expressed are mine alone.