Category Archives: 1920-1929

1920-1929

Claude C. Washburn. The Green Arch. New York: Albert & Charles Boni, 1925.

Arthur Holland is a World War I veteran suffering from a failed romance and what we would now call PTSD.  In an attempt to sort himself out, he rents a cabin outside of Beckett, North Carolina.  The cabin is nothing special, but its location is spectacular.  The agent from whom he rents the cabin provides Holland with a well-trained, spirited horse, Cham.  Soon Holland is taking long rides into the woods.  On one such ride he comes upon an enormous rhododendron, rooted in a brook.  When Holland passes under the rhododendron he feels as though he has entered an enchanted land.  Soon things happen–enchanting and otherwise–as Holland makes friends with a mysterious old man and his beautiful granddaughter and  experiences hospitality unimaginable in such a remote location.  But he also has a dust-up with a band of malevolent mountaineers who may be shadowing him on his rides.  Throughout these days of adventure, Holland still feels detached from the dangers and beauty he encounters until his foolish curiosity puts a young woman in peril.

Tryon, North Carolina is thought to be the model for Beckett. In this novel, the mountains of Polk County are portrayed as wild and dangerous.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1920-1929, 1925, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Polk, Washburn, Charles C.

James Boyd. Marching On. New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1927.

James Boyd followed up the success of his Revolutionary War novel, Drums, with this novel, set during the 1860s.

James Fraser, a descendant of the hero of Drums, is the son of a small farmer with land along the Cape Fear River.  Even as he sees that the cards are stacked against small landowners like his family, James falls in love with Stewart Prevost, the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner.  Frustrated in love and with his economic prospects, James goes to Wilmington.  Once the Civil War begins, James joins the Confederate army and becomes part of Stonewall Jackson’s army.  He is capture by the Yankees but is freed just as the tide of war turns in the North’s favor.  After making his way back home, he attempts to protect the Prevost plantation. In that he fails, but the war has both changed the Prevost family fortunes and their daughter’s opinion of James.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1920-1929, 1927, Boyd, James, Coastal Plain, Historical, New Hanover

Luther Little. Manse Dwellers. Charlotte: Presbyterian Standard Pub. Co., 1927.

A simple, readable novel of the life of James West, a minister in a large Southern city, Tarrytown (possibly Charlotte).  The account covers Rev. West’s life, including his early years, but focuses chiefly on the challenges that he faces as the pastor of a large church–dissent among the deacons, finances that don’t match programming, demands of the denomination for more support, an assistant who strays from orthodoxy, and jealousy in the hearts of other clergy.  Incidents in the lives of his parishioners form subplots.

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Filed under 1920-1929, 1927, Little, Luther, Mecklenburg, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational

DuBose Heyward. Angel. New York: George H. Doran Co., 1926

This novel’s North Carolina setting is a bit of a surprise since the author, DuBose Heyward, is strongly associated with that other Carolina–particularly the city of Charleston, the setting for his novel PorgyPorgy was the basis for Porgy and Bess, the play, movie and great George Gershwin opera.

Angel is set among the mountaineers of the Great Smokies.  Buck Merritt is a handsome and daring young bootlegger, and the sweet and beautiful Angel Thornley is in love with him.  Angel’s father, a preacher, is opposed to her relationship with Buck.  When Reverend Thornley betrays Buck to the revenue officers, Buck is sent away to do hard time.  What the reverend didn’t know is that Angel is pregnant with Buck’s child.   To save his reputation in the community, Rev. Thornley arranges a hasty marriage between Angel and old Stan Galloway.  Angel and her son spend six years with Galloway until the construction of a road through the mountains brings job opportunities for Galloway and a convict road crew that includes Buck.

This is a lyrical novel that conveys both the beauty of the mountains and the values of the individuals who live there.  The scenes at Rev. Thornley’s revival services are especially vivid.

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Filed under 1920-1929, 1926, Heyward, DuBose, Mountains

James Hay, Jr. The Bellamy Case. New York: Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1925.

Stokes Jackson is a slick political operative who comes down to Asheville from New York to run Wayne Gilmore’s state senate campaign. It’s the early 1920s and women have just gotten the right to vote, so a key part of Jackson’s strategy is to persuade women to vote for his candidate.  However, Gilmore’s opponent is a woman, Joan Bellamy.  Jackson’s first thought is to throw mud on Bellamy, but before he can do that he is murdered.  The whole Bellamy family comes under suspicion.  Only with the help of a detective is Joan able to prove her innocence, and as the novel ends her personal and professional futures look quite bright.

Because there were two factual errors early in the book (Asheville is not in Orange County and Marshall, not Madison, is the county seat of Madison County), I was ready to dismiss this novel, assuming that the author hadn’t spent much time in the state. In fact, James Hay Jr. spent over a decade in Asheville, working some of that time at the Asheville Citizen.  And, in 1920, a woman, Lillian Exum Clement, was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly from Buncombe County.

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Filed under 1920-1929, 1925, Buncombe, Hay, James, Madison, Mountains, Mystery

Ernest M. Poate. The Trouble at Pinelands. New York: Chelsea House, 1922.

The “trouble” in the title is murder.  The atmosphere should be one of happy anticipation at Fort House, for Dorothy McGregor and Dr. Lewis Parker are to be married in two days.  But the house is inhabited by poltergeists, an invalid aunt who just might oppose the marriage, and her nurse who has a mysterious past.  When Dr. Parker asks Dr. Gaskell, another local physician, to look in on Aunt Mary, they argue over her condition.  The next morning, when Dr. Gaskell is found dead, the soon-to-be bridegroom is the prime suspect.

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Filed under 1920-1929, 1922, Coastal Plain, Moore, Mystery, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Novels to Read Online, Poate, Ernest M.

James Boyd. Drums. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1925.

This book can lay claim to being the classic Revolutionary War novel for North Carolina.  At the start of the novel the main character, John Fraser, is a young everyman from the pine woods.  After he is given the opportunity for an education in Edenton, he becomes a gentleman, loyal to the Crown and a bit of a ladies’ man.  Johnny hears the complaints of the colonists and sees the English exercise their authority with arrogance, but he feels only confusion, not a real change in his loyalties.  Only when he crosses the ocean to live in London does his political allegiance shift.  Fraser does a favor for John Paul Jones and later joins Jones aboard the Bonhomme Richard.  When he returns to North Carolina, Johnny is a strong Patriot and ready to settle down with his first and truest love.

A later edition of the book has illustrations by N.C. Wyeth.

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Filed under 1920-1929, 1925, Boyd, James, Chowan, Coast, Historical

Waldron Baily. June Gold. New York: W. J. Watt & Co., 1922.

It’s rare to find a novel about the illegal liquor trade in North Carolina that isn’t set in the mountains. This is that rare novel. It’s a prohibition era romance set around Bogue Banks. When one of their friends is blinded by bad liquor, a group of New York financiers decided to use a hunting preserve on Bogue Banks as a way station for their rum running. Lora Humphrey falls for one of the New Yorkers and spurns the attentions of a local coast guards man. Her jilted suitor seeks revenge by mobilizing the religious folks in the area against the liquor trade. When Lora takes her New Yorker to a revival they are singled out for condemnation; a well-described brawl ensues. As the locals start taking sides, Lora occupies herself helping a minister’s daughter and searching for long-buried treasure. All the plot lines come together in the end; along the way, the reader gets a good sense of the local geography.

Check this title’s availability and access an online copy through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1920-1929, 1922, Baily, Waldron, Carteret, Coast, Novels to Read Online, Onslow, Romance/Relationship

Katharine Newlin Burt. The Red Lady. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1920.

As a housekeeper at a country place near Pine Cone (a fictional Southern Pines), red-haired Janice Gale becomes involved in the search for stolen Russian jewels. Trap doors, strange guests, and several murder attempts figure in the plot of this mystery.

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Filed under 1920, 1920-1929, Burt, Katharine Newlin, Moore, Mystery, Novels to Read Online, Piedmont

Ronleigh de Conval.The Fair Lady of Halifax, or, Comley’s Six Hundred. Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton, 1920.

This novel covers the sweep of eighteenth-century North Carolina history. Set chiefly around New Bern, it presents the European settlement of the area and conflicts between the settlers and Native Americans. Colonel Colmey emerges as the hero of the book for his brilliance and bravery as an officer in the Continental army in the early days of the American Revolution. (Ronleigh de Conval is the pseudonym of John Alfred Pollock.)

Check this title’s availability and access an online copy through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library Catalog.

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Filed under 1920, 1920-1929, Coastal Plain, Craven, de Conval, Ronleigh, Historical, Novels to Read Online