Tag Archives: Farming

Peggy Poe Stern. Heaven-high and Hell-deep. Boone, NC: Moody Valley, 2003.

Mountain women are often noted for being strong-willed and independent. This is true of Elaine “Laine” Elder. The Appalachian teenager had already lived a difficult life before Rafford “Rafe” Johnson came into the picture. Treated like a modern-day Cinderella by her sister and hysterical mother, Laine efficiently runs the family farm while her father works at the local sawmill. When Rafe comes to the Elder homestead to ask for Laine’s hand in marriage, her downtrodden father accepts his offer to appease his wife. Although Laine barely knows Rafe, she is eager to be a good wife and to be in charge of his fine plantation house in Kentucky.

Laine’s contentment quickly evaporates as her new husband shows his true stripes as a menacing, abandoning, and cheating drunk. While Rafe is away on a trading excursion, Jonas Jones, the local doctor, pays a visit to Laine. Dr. Jones is a former acquaintance, and their friendship blossoms as Laine solicits from him information about her elusive spouse. She discovers that Rafe is lying to her; not only has he been married before but they are mere miles from Banner Elk, North Carolina – not in Kentucky. Laine realizes that she is pregnant, and she is determined to give her child a proper rearing and to improve her own situation. When Rafe, her sister, her now-widowed mother, and a panther threaten her safe haven, Laine demonstrates her grit in standing up to them and protecting her new life.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Avery, Historical, Mountains, Stern, Peggy Poe

Bernice Kelly Harris. Purslane. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1939.

This loosely structured novel made a big splash when it was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 1939. It was a departure from the academic nonfiction typically published by UNC Press and it was an altogether different book from the sensationalistic novels of the South put out by commercial publishers in the 1930s.

Purslane is set in a small farming community in central North Carolina.  John and Dele Fuller and their extended family are the focus of the novel.  The hard work of farming; daily routines before rural electrification; the decisions, large  and small, that set the course of each person’s life; and the ties that bind individuals to their kin and the community fill the pages of the novel.  Portrayals of the events of the community–church picnics, corn huskings, coon hunts, hog killings–give readers a rich picture of a culture that has slipped away during our parents’ lifetimes.

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

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Filed under 1930-1939, 1939, Harris, Bernice Kelly, Piedmont, Wake

Leanna Sain. Gate to Nowhere. Kingsport, TN: Twilight Times Books, 2008.

“Before I tell you anything, Gavin, I want to assure you that I’m not crazy. I’m not an escapee from an asylum, and I’m not a witch. I’m just me. My name is Emma Jane Franklin. I’m thirty-four years old; my birthday is April 6… 1970.”

Emma Franklin has been in Nowhere, North Carolina, for a few days when she reluctantly begins to tell her host, Gavin MacKinlay, the story of how she arrived. Gavin can hardly believe his ears – how can someone from the twenty-first century be in his apple orchard? He is transfixed by her beauty, charm, and interest in him and his property; this leads him to believe that she is not lying to him. If what she is saying is true, Emma passed through the gate during a full moon in 2004 to arrive on his plantation in 1827.

Although the thought of traveling through time is shocking enough, Emma gives Gavin some very startling news. In a few days time, the community, which has decided to rename their settlement “MacKinlay” out of admiration of his successes, will suddenly turn on him. Because Emma knows the future, she knows that generations of MacKinlay residents have cursed Gavin’s name, but neither she nor Gavin understand why. Equipped with the information Emma does have, they work together to prevent the events that caused this rift and thus change the course of history.

When the month has passed and the moon is full again, Emma is able to walk through the gate to get back to 2004. Once there, she finds neighbors who are genuinely friendly and who are proud to tout their town’s history. However, Emma is torn. She misses Gavin, who she found to be an honest, gentle person. She finds she likes the practices of the nineteenth century and has no desire to stay in this century. Emma must choose which life to live, although this time, if she passed through the gate, there can be no turning back.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Henderson, Historical, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Sain, Leanna, Science Fiction/Fantasy

Wayne Caldwell. Requiem by Fire. New York: Random House, 2010.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, “America’s Favorite Drive,” celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. The National Parkway was established as a New Deal program to create jobs and to promote tourism in a region that was foreign to many Americans. Today, the picturesque landscape and enlightening roadside markers provide visitors with a glimpse of the beauty and culture of Appalachia.

Although the picture of the Parkway is pleasing today, its design and formation created tension and pain in the mountain communities it winds through. As Wayne Caldwell shows in Requiem by Fire,  families were stripped of their homes, livelihoods, and even relationships with one another.

When the North Carolina Park Commission comes to Cataloochee to discuss buyouts, community members learn they have two unhappy options. They can sell their farms now at a loss and leave, or sell at an even greater loss but continue to lease the land from the government. With regulations such as what natural resources they can harvest and even what burial techniques they can use, many people feel compelled to leave and try to start anew. However, other families decide to stay at they only homes they have ever known. This is difficult, though, because their villages shrink and social networks dwindle. No matter the choice made by the natives of Cataloochee in the late 1920s, “home” is forever changed.  Highlighting the strong connection to place felt by the people affected by the Blue Ridge Parkway, Caldwell provides a different view of the beloved roadway.

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Buncombe, Caldwell, Wayne, Haywood, Historical, Mountains

Tim Downs. Ends of the Earth. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2009.

A call from the sheriff’s department in Sampson County gives North Carolina State University professor Nick Polchak a chance to escape the beginning-of-the-school- year receptions that he abhors.  Professor Polchack is known as “the Bug Man” and he assumes that Sampson County authorities know his reputation and requested his services.  But they didn’t.  It’s the dead man’s wife who asked for Nick.  Kathryn Guilford made her first series appearance in Shoofly Pie, but in the intervening years a lot has happened, including her marriage to a bi-polar man who is the murder victim.

The authorities think that the killing is drug-related but early on readers learn that the victim was connected to a new NCSU graduate student with ties to a sinister, wealthy Russian.  What takes Nick time to discover is that the grad student’s interest in Nick’s work may be his way to keep track of the investigation.  Nick can be forgiven for being a little slow on the uptake.  His feelings for Kathryn re-emerge as they eat meals together and he sees how she mothers her autistic daughter.  Alena Savard, the dog trainer from series novel Less than Dead, has also come to the farm to aid in the investigation. She’s clear on her feelings for Nick and she knows that Kathryn and her daughter are rivals for Nick’s heart.  Bioterrorism, entomology, and matters of the heart vie for center stage in this book.  Rest easy, the terrorism threat is resolved; romantic matters will be settled later.

This is the fifth  novel in the Bug Man series. Not all of the books in the series are set in North Carolina.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coastal Plain, Downs, Tim, Novels in Series, Sampson, Suspense/Thriller, Wake

Theresa Cocolin. The Last Rose of Summer. Morrisville, NC: Lulu.com, 2008.

In this introspective novel we follow the narrator, Mandy, from her early childhood through to middle age.  Initially, her family is poor, but stable, in Depression-era North Carolina.  When her brothers leave the farm and her mother dies, Mandy’s life takes a turn for the worse. One day she kills her drunken, abusive father and then is sent to Dorothea Dix Hospital.  During her years at Dix, she comes to understand herself and other people, and upon release finds her way to love and a more normal life.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Cocolin, Theresa, Piedmont, Wake

K. Allen Judge. The Road. Durham, NC: Laser Image Corporate Printing, 2007.

In this novel K. Allen Judge tackles the possible effects of road expansion on farming communities in North Carolina.  Judge tells of the changes that come to Chatham County as Highway 64 and Highway 15-501 are expanded from two to four lanes. The reader sees the expansions through the experiences of the fictional Beasley family, farmers in Chatham County. We learn about the family’s roots abroad and their life on the land through the centuries. As road construction continues, the Beasleys worry about more than just the loss of their land.  Some family members fear that their Quaker heritage will be lost to future generations. The author provides readers with a good sense of that heritage and its value.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Chatham, Judge, K. Allen, Piedmont

Denise Hunter. Sweetwater Gap. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2008.

When Josie Mitchell left her mountain home six years ago she never intended to return. But it has been a rough couple of years at her family’s Blue Ridge Apple Orchard.  When Josie finds out that her sister is pregnant with twins she heads back to help out…and to try and convince her sister to sell the business. Her visit is marked by unresolved guilt, secrets that she feels she cannot share, and tension with the attractive orchard manager, Grady.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Hunter, Denise, Mountains, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship

Michael Phillips. Angels Watching Over Me. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2003.

Katie Clairborne and Mary Ann (Mayme) Jukes were born in the same county less than a year apart, but they did not meet until the Civil War brought tragedy to both their lives. Mayme, a slave on a plantation outside the fictional Greens Crossing, is the lone survivor of an attack by marauding Confederate deserters. She flees and eventually finds herself at Rosewood, the plantation owned by the Clairbornes. Unfortunately, the same gang attacked Rosewood and everyone is dead except Katie. The girls decide to run the plantation and keep the deaths a secret to protect Katie’s claim on the land. They form a strong bond and, through toil and faith, they survive together. This is the first book in the Shenandoah Sisters series of historical, faith-based novels.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Historical, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Phillips, Michael, Religious/Inspirational

Elizabeth Van Loon. The Shadow of Hampton Mead. Philadelphia: T. B. Peterson & Brothers, 1878.

The Hamptons live an Edenic life on their plantation the western North Carolina. Mrs. Hampton died young, but Mr. Hampton has had the pleasure of watching his children Walter and Norva grow to adulthood. The snake who enters this garden is Norva’s new husband Lawrence Hastings, a man she met in London. Hasting is lascivious and greedy, and his plot to seize the Hampton’s family’s wealth almost succeeds. The novel is thought to be set in Yancey County; the time is the early nineteenth century.

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


Filed under 1870-1879, 1878, Mountains, Novels to Read Online, Van Loon, Elizabeth, Yancey