Tag Archives: Quakers

Lights, Camera, Novel: Catherine Marshall’s Christy.

Christy TV SeriesSome of the best stories originate from real life, like Catherine Marshall’s 1967 novel Christy. Marshall was inspired to write her famous book based on the experiences of her mother, Leonora Whitaker, who left her family and home in North Carolina to teach at a mission school in the Appalachian Mountains in 1909. After Marshall and her parents later visited the mission school in Del Rio, Tennessee in the late fifties, Marshall wanted to tell her mother’s story. Many elements in Christy are rooted in fact. Marshall conducted extensive research into Appalachian life and culture, so even the fictionalized aspects of the novel are still well-founded.

Twenty-seven years later, Christy was developed into a TV series, which debuted on Easter Sunday on CBS. True to the novel, the show was filmed in Tennessee. Kellie Martin portrayed Christy. Tyne Daly won an Emmy for her supporting role as Alice Henderson, a Quaker missionary, and LeVar Burton joined the cast in season two. Fans of Marshall’s novel enjoyed the series, though their satisfaction was short-lived. Executives canceled the show soon after the season two finale was shot. Twenty-one episodes were filmed in all.

Viewers were upset about the cancellation because the season two series finale ended on a cliffhanger with Christy split between two very different men vying for her affection, the rugged Dr. Neil MacNeil and the handsome Reverend David Grantland. Seeking resolution, fans wrote to CBS requesting that the show be put back on the air. Five years later, in 2000, PAX network (since renamed Ion) continued the unresolved plot line in a made-for-TV movie. Some of the same actors reprised their roles, but Christy was recast using an unknown actor, Lauren Lee Smith. Three TV movies adapting Marshall’s novel were released between 2000 and 2001 giving fans the closure they were denied in the canceled TV series. The movies — Christy: Return to Cutter Gap, Christy: A Change of Seasons and Christy: A New Beginning — were filmed primarily in Canada.

Lauren Lee Smith as Christy

A book cover with Lauren Lee Smith as Christy.

Christy still boasts an active fan base. Starting in 1997, enthusiasts of the novel and TV show have met to discuss their fascination for Christy. The annual meeting was dubbed “ChristyFest,” and it often occurs in Townsend, Tennessee, the filming location of the TV show. This year ChristyFest will be held May 23-25 in Del Rio, Tennessee. From the ChristyFest site, it appears that registration will open soon.

No doubt, Christy has captured the attention of loyal fans, and the love triangle between the main characters is a big draw. In writing this post, I found evidence of a Neil and Christy fan site with photos from the TV show and the TV movies, interviews with cast members, episode guides, and analysis and more. There are also special fan fiction sites and some fictionalized Twitter accounts created from the perspectives of Christy, Neil, David, and Alice.

Catherine Marshall is recognized as a Christian writer. The Christy Awards were created to acknowledge Christian fiction writers and the three Christy TV movies were backed by the support of the now defunct PAX network, which focused on “family-based” programming. It appears that Inspiration Network, or INSP TV, currently broadcasts episodes from the Christy TV series. INSP headquarters are in the Charlotte metro area.

Kellie Martin as Christy

An audiobook cover with Kellie Martin as Christy.

Read the original blog post on Catherine Marshall’s Christy here. The complete TV series is available through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog along with the original novel and an audiobook version of the novel read by Kellie Martin.

Sources consulted here: Christianity Today, The Christy Awards, ChristyFest site and blog, Christy Fan Fiction, IMDb, Inspiration Networks/INSP TV, Neil and Christy fan site, Twitter (see paragraph above for the specific accounts), Wikipedia (Catherine Marshall, Christy [novel], Christy [TV series])

Leave a Comment

Filed under 1990-1999, 1994, 1995, 2000, 2000-2009, 2001, Buncombe, Historical, Marshall, Catherine, Mountains, Novels by Region, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship

Jennifer Hudson Taylor. Path of Freedom. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2013.

pathAt eighteen, Flora Saferight has already developed a reputation as a competent midwife in her small community in Guilford County, North Carolina.  Such recognition would seem to indicate that she is mature beyond her years, but in fact, she is still impetuous and quick to take offense.  And no one offends her quite as much as Bruce Milliken.  Bruce teased Flora when they were young, and she is now ever on the ready for his next barb.  Bruce, who has long been attracted to Flora’s tempestuousness, has tried to make amends, but she has rebuffed every offer of a truce in their little war of words. But when Flora and Bruce are tapped by their pastor for a dangerous mission, the two young people must put aside their past.

For Flora and Bruce are part of a tight-knit Quaker community–a community that has been resisting the slaveholding society that they live in by ferrying men and women out of bondage to freedom in the North.  It’s  secret and dangerous work that both Bruce’s parents and Flora’s have done; they now want their children to take over their roles.  As Path of Freedom opens, Bruce has just returned from a trip to Indiana on the Underground Railroad.  Bruce has shown that he can handle the false-bottomwagon that hides his passengers and that he can withstand the hardships of the trip.  Flora has never done this work–and she did not know of her parents’ involvement in the Underground Railroad–but she is keenly needed for the next trip, because the passengers are a young man and his pregnant wife.  There is a chance that the woman will give birth while they are on the trip to Pennsylvania and that she will need the attentions of a skilled midwife to save her and her baby.

Because the young couple will be hidden, and it would appear improper for Flora and Bruce to travel alone, Flora’s sister Irene must make the trip too.  Irene provides some of the lighter moments in the book and acts as a go-between between Bruce and Flora as they work out their feelings for each other.  Although the dangers and hardship of the trip–suspicious landowners, bobcats, storms, bounty hunters–are portrayed, Path of Freedom, is at its core a romance in which the relationship between Flora and Bruce takes center stage.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Guilford, Historical, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship, Taylor, Jennifer Hudson

Eugene E. Pfaff, Jr. Guns at Guilford Court House. Greensboro, NC: Tudor Publishers, 2009.

The Revolutionary War has been going on for six years, and James Todd is beginning to feel even more conflicted about it. As a member of the New Garden Meeting House in Guilford County, North Carolina, he knows that he cannot participate in any violence, much less battle. To do so would put his Quaker standing into jeopardy. However, when James’s father is fatally injured by a British captain who steals the family’s horse, the teenager feels as if he has no choice. James must fight, in part to protect his family but also to avenge his father’s death. He befriends a free Black soldier named Glenn, and the two serve under General Nathanael Greene. General Greene, a disowned Quaker, understands James’ struggle in reconciling his religious convictions with his sense of patriotic duty. James provides geographic intelligence to the American army while addressing what to do when he comes face-to-face with his father’s murderer, accepting the Friends’ decision of his fate, and realizing the significance of friendship and family loyalty.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Children & Young Adults, Guilford, Historical, Pfaff, Eugene E., Piedmont

Charles D. Rodenbough. If the Lord is Willing and the Creek Stays Low. United States: Lulu.com, 2010.

This historical novel is based on the lives of David and Rachel Caldwell. David Caldwell is a towering figure in North Carolina history–an influential patriot from the colonial period through the early republic.  He was also a minister, an educator, a planter, and a physician.  This novel fleshes out the story. David and Rachel, their neighbors, their children, and many historical figures are brought to life as people with a full range of emotions–love, fear, anger, family loyalty, religious convictions. The first person narrative is believable and the novel conveys a great deal of history.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Guilford, Historical, Piedmont, Rodenbough, Charles D.

Diana Gabaldon. An Echo in the Bone. New York: Delacorte Press, 2009.

War is upon the Carolinas in this, the seventh novel in the Outlander series.  Jamie Fraser and his time-traveling wife Claire leave North Carolina aboard the inappropriately named Tranquil Teal. Jamie and Claire’s experiences at sea are part of the mix, along with much about the war in the northern colonies, and Brianna’s new life in twentieth century Scotland.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coastal Plain, Gabaldon, Diana, Historical, Novels in Series, Science Fiction/Fantasy

Marjorie Hill Allee. The Road to Carolina. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1932.

Tristram Coffin was just a young man looking for adventure when he left Indiana heading south to the Carolinas.  However his traveling companion, Uncle Tommy, is anything but lighthearted.  Old Tommy Pearson is a Quaker and a committed abolitionist.  All through Kentucky and Tennessee Uncle Tommy took his message straight onto plantations and into a a crossroads general store.  Uncle Tommy has been doing this for many years, and he has a network of friends and kin who give him hospitality while on his annual circuit.

In Randolph County Tristram and Uncle Tommy stop at the home of Jesse Coffin, a Quaker who works his land by himself, and later at the plantation of Braxton Lewis, a cousin who has left the Quaker fold.  Tristram is initially attracted to the comforts of the plantation big house and stays with the Lewises through the summer.  Only when cousin Braxton cannot pay him does Tristram turn to the Coffins for help.  When the Civil War breaks out, Tristram is unable to return home.  His life and those of all his relatives change in unexpected ways as the war comes to Carolina.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 1930-1939, 1932, Allee, Marjorie Hill, Children & Young Adults, Historical, Piedmont, Randolph

Diana Gabaldon. The Fiery Cross. New York: Delacorte Press, 2001.

The second book in the second Outlander trilogy, The Fiery Cross starts with a Gathering of the Clans in 1770 North Carolina. It chronicles the next two years in the lives of time-traveler Claire Fraser, her Highland-born husband Jamie, her daughter Brianna, and her son-in-law Roger as the American Revolution draws nearer. Much of the story’s action takes place in the mountains of North Carolina, but as troubles in the colonies increase, some of the characters’ militia obligations take them around the state and others travel in search of safety. The title is not a reference to the Ku Klux Klan, but rather a reference to the Scottish tradition of burning a cross to rally clansmen during times of war.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2000-2009, 2001, Gabaldon, Diana, Historical, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship, Science Fiction/Fantasy

Catherine Marshall. Christy. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967.

After hearing a missionary doctor speak about his work in the Great Smokies, nineteen year-old, Christy Huddleston volunteers to be a mission teacher. She leaves her home and well-to-do family in Asheville and travels to the remote Cutter’s Gap, a place that does not take easily to outsiders. She faces numerous challenges related to both the place and the people of rural Appalachia–including the lack of modern conveniences, the influence of folk beliefs and superstitions, moonshining, and the community’s abject poverty–but her faith sustains her. Miss Alice, the missionary who founded the school, helps her and she is romantically torn between two men: minister David and the locally-born Dr. MacNeill. Most of the book’s action takes place in Cutter’s Gap, which is actually based on the community of Morgan Branch, located just over the border in Tennessee in the Cherokee National Forest. Based on the life of the author’s mother, Christy has inspired a television series of the same name, as well as several TV movies.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 1960-1969, 1967, Buncombe, Historical, Marshall, Catherine, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship

Donna Campbell Smith. An Independent Spirit: The Tale of Betsy Dowdy and Black Bess. Buford, GA: Faithful Publishing, 2006.

An Independent Spirit is based on the Revolutionary War-era story of Betsy Dowdy, who rode to warn a North Carolina general about the approach of British soldiers from Virginia. This book presents the year leading up to her famous ride, with fourteen year-old Betsy living on Currituck Island, riding her wild pony Black Bess, and traveling to Edenton. Betsy’s quiet life is interrupted when Virginia’s Lord Dunmore threatens her community and her beloved wild ponies. Her all-night ride from Currituck to Hertford brings news of troop movements and leads to a patriot victory at the Battle of Great Bridge. This edition of the book includes a bibliography and teacher’s guide.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Children & Young Adults, Chowan, Coast, Currituck, Docufiction, Historical, Smith, Donna Campbell

Diana Gabaldon. Drums of Autumn. New York: Delacorte Press, 1997.

Although time-traveling Claire Fraser knows that the Revolution is coming, she and her husband Jamie decide to make a new life in the American colonies. They make their way from Charleston to Cumberland County, North Carolina, where Jamie’s wealthy aunt owns a plantation, and then eventually travel to the mountains where they begin setting up a community on the fictional Fraser’s Ridge. Their daughter, Brianna, is living in 1960s Boston, but she goes back in time to find her parents. Roger, her friend and would-be husband, follows her. This is the first book in the 2nd Outlander trilogy and the first of the series to take place in North Carolina.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 1990-1999, 1997, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Gabaldon, Diana, Historical, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship, Science Fiction/Fantasy