Friends! Mark your calendars to join us next month for what promises to be a superb first-of-the-season Branches Book Club meeting on Monday, September 24th. Bonus: Author Ann Gabhart is coming to be with us to talk about her page-turner of a book, These Healing Hills.
The girls at Branches Book Club at Middletown United Methodist Church invite you to come and bring some friends! The more the merrier! We’ll be meeting from 6:30-8:00 p.m.
These Healing Hills is the winner of the Grace Award in the Action/Adventure/Western/Epic Fiction category and is also a finalist in the Faith, Hope, Love Reader’s Choice Awards in Women’s Fiction. Bravo, Ann!
Allow me to give you a petite teaser on These Healing Hills…
One of many aspects I love about this novel is it’s about the frontier nurses in Appalachia. These were and are very brave souls who attend nursing school with the intention of traveling the hills of Kentucky and caring for the sick. Delivering babies, a la nurse-midwives, is their specialty.
Ann clearly did her homework, researching these nurses’ education, mode of transportation, culture, etc. These Healing Hills opens in 1945, just after the war ended. We quickly meet Francine Howard. She has come from the big city of Cincinnati to the very tiny town of Hyden, in Leslie County, Kentucky to become a frontier nurse. (Please see a real frontier nurse below!)
Fran arrives with two built-in challenges before she ever begins work at the clinic. The first challenge could perhaps be the reason for Fran leaving Cincinnati and joining the Frontier Nurses.
Fran had had a close relationship with a young man who had been at war. His homecoming surely meant their future wedding. Unfortunately, he met and married a gal in England. Fran learned he was bringing this new wife home.
The second challenge involves Fran’s mother, who’s still in Cincinnati. She is completely against Fran moving to the mountains and pokes fun of the “hillbillies and their ways.” While we readers fall in love with Fran, we easily get upset over her mother who speaks her mind mercilessly.
While Fran catches on quickly to nursing, as well as traveling on horseback, she doesn’t catch on so quickly to the mountain’s trails and becomes lost. More than once.
Enter one handsome young man, Ben Locke, who’s also just returned from the war. They have several chance meetings and are obviously attracted to one another.
Fran befriends Ben’s whole family as she takes care of his brother, Woody, as well as his sister, Sadie, and delivers a baby of another one of his sisters, Becca. (This is only the beginning of several plot twists.)
In my research of the frontier nurses, I happened upon this picture. This is one of the real nurses who called on families. Thanks to Ann’s writing, this is exactly how I pictured them. (Note the dog and lots of children.)
Ann weaves the importance of prayer and reliance upon the Lord throughout her novel as well as tucking in Scripture verses and a song here and there. She also writes so visually you feel as if you’re right there with Nurse Howard (Fran) and her patients.
I happen to know Ann’s a dog lover, and she doesn’t disappoint by including a loyal, super smart dog in the story as well as some puppies who we readers become endeared to.
Here’s a favorite quote:
Not without frightful occurrences, including an encounter with a rattle snake, and a mysterious shooting, Ann keeps us guessing while rapidly turning the pages of These Healing Hills.
Will Fran stay? Will she and Ben give in to their attraction to one another? Will her former boyfriend meddle in the middle? Ah, my friend, you must read this book to find out! And read it before our September 24th meeting!
It was a sad day for me when I finished the book. I didn’t want it to end. It begs for a sequel, and that’s going to be my first question for Ann when she comes to book club!
Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab These Healing Hills. You have plenty of time to read it before we all get to meet, greet, and hear from the author herself, Ann Gabhart. Be thinking of questions to ask her! You do not want to miss this opportunity!
Mark your calendar: Monday, September 24th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church. Please RSVP to Nancy Tinnell at (502)245-8839. (Because of the ongoing remodeling, we will be meeting in the sanctuary.)
One final fun fact: Since we chose Ann’s book in the spring, she’s had yet another book release, River to Redemption, this past July. I’m sure we can ask her questions about it too! (It’s next on my nightstand.)
‘Til next time!