by Catherine Marshall
As a happy resident of the Smoky Mountain foothills in East TN, I found “Christy” an insightful look at mountain life in 1912. The discussion of the proud and strong mountain people, their heritage, their customs, their way of life was eye opening and fascinating. The story line focuses on a bright and adventurous nineteen year old woman who opted to serve those in underprivileged and impoverished areas as a school teacher. Her age and innocence make for an exciting and trying look at life in the early 1900s where disease was rampant among those without means and education.
“Christy” is based on a real person who truly met many of the early pioneers and settlers of the Smoky Mountains. Her many adventures include supporting a mission, starting a schoolhouse, and battling disease while trying to make friendships among people with completely different histories and beliefs. Since the story is told by the daughter and granddaughter of the women who really had these experiences and confined into the timeline of a year, the book is labeled as fiction. Historical events and circumstances are often accurately represented and fascinating and difficult to imagine.
The book, which comes in at just over 500 pages has a long list of characters and the publisher has included a list of the cast along with a map of the area in the pages prior to the start of chapter one. I didn’t find the length unreasonable for the story and had no problem keeping the characters straight. The ability of this author to describe and detail the characters made them so very real and memorable. The book does end in a fashion I found rather sudden and I wished for a epilogue. An underdeveloped romance was also left to the imagination.
As an added bonus my daughter was reading a book set in the same time period and geographical region with peoples facing similar challenges. If you enjoy reading books featuring similar time periods along with your children, I highly recommend Mary on Horseback by Rosemary Wells. The book is part of the kindergarten package from Sonlight’s kindergarten homeschool curriculum.
Overall, I really enjoyed Christy and found it to have a wonderful historical perspective with a great story line. The book is filled with beloved characters whose realism shines through. You’ll remember them and their stories long after you close the covers of Christy.