The beloved book, Christy, is considered a classic these days, and rightly so. Christy is a historical fiction novel written by Catherine Marshall, which is sent in the fictional Appalachian village of Cutter Gap, Tennessee, in 1912. The book is actually inspired by Marshall's mother, Leonora Whitaker, who worked with impoverish children in the Appalachian region when she was a young, single woman.
The novel explores faith, Christy's growth and struggles through her first year of teaching, and mountain traditions such has moonshining, feuding, and folk beliefs. It is rich with history and information about the Appalachian people. It goes into great detail about their ancestry, the origin of their beliefs and customs, their folk medicine, and why they are the way they are. The novel follows Christy Huddleston as she ventures into a territory completely unknown to her, tackling the struggles and problems that face her as she tries to help and understand the people of Cutter Gap. Other main characters include Alice Henderson, a Quaker woman with a faith of steel and a heart of pure gold; David Grantland, the reverend who is still trying to find his faith; Ida Grantland, David's sister; Neill MacNeill, the local doctor who is an agnostic that grew up in the mountains; the Spencer Family, the McHone Family, the Allen family, and the Taylors.
Together, Alice, David, Christy, and Doctor MacNeill work to stop the generational feuding, the moonshining, and to educate the people of Cutter Gap, not only on the core school subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but also on faith, good hygiene, and how to put their talents and rich history to work for them in order to provide better incomes. Their goal is to help the people of Cutter Gap advance toward the progresses of the new century and to help them be self-sustainable, but they have their hands full for sure! Battling the dangerous business of bootlegging moonshine and the generational feuding and hatred between clans are their greatest trials. While both Christy and David come to the mission with big ideas and strong opinions on how to change things and improve them, Alice and Doctor MacNeill believe in taking a more subtle approach. They know the mountain people far better than both Christy and David, who are consider "outlanders", and know that the people of Cutter Gap don't take kindly to being told what to do by outsiders who know nothing of their ways.
Through murder, vandalism, and a typhoid epidemic, the community comes together and finally starts to learn that putting aside their grudges and feuds and helping and loving one another is a far better way to live.
Spoiler alerts! Skip the next paragraph if you don't want spoilers:
I went into the reading of this book having already seen the TV series based upon the book, though I must say, the book and the series differ a great deal, they still carry the same message. I thoroughly enjoyed Christy, and would highly recommend it. There's a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from this novel, and the history of these people is fascinating. Marshall did a superb job of humanizing these characters and giving each of them their own voice. A few of my friends who had read the book before, told me that they were rooting for David (the Reverend) right from the start vs. the doctor. I'm afraid I have to disagree with them. I found David to be a bit of a jerk for most of the book, particularly to Christy. Why she ever thought that a marriage between the two could have worked is beyond me. I was rooting for the doctor all the way.
Really, my only complaint about the book is the ending. To me, it ended far too abruptly. I was hoping for the ends to be tied up a bit more neatly, for a more solid conclusion, but the end is satisfactory enough.
I give it an 8/10.
Liz Austin. Bibliophile. Writer. Book hoarder. I would rather be reading....