Author: Ann H. Gabhart
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: June 1, 2021
Kentucky packhorse librarian Tansy Calhoun doesn't mind the rough trails and long hours as she serves her Appalachian mountain community during the Great Depression. Yet she longs to find love like the heroines in her books. When a charming writer comes to town, she thinks she might have found it--or is the perfect man actually closer than she thinks?
Perdita Sweet has called these mountains home for so long she's nearly as rocky as the soil around her small cabin. Long ago she thought she could love, but when the object of her affection up and married someone else, she stopped giving too much of herself away to others.
As is so often the case, it's easier to see what's best for others than to see what's best for oneself, and Perdita knows who Tansy should choose. But why would anyone listen to the romantic advice of an old spinster?
Saddle up for a heartfelt story of love--love of family, love of place, and the love of a lifetime--from bestselling author Ann H. Gabhart.
Reviewer: Adriann Harris
I always look forward to reading each and every story penned by Ann H. Gabhart. The timeline of this one is during the Great Depression set in an Appalachian Mountain community called Booneville in Kentucky about the packhorse librarians. A book was never better titled than this one as you really do get to ride along a storied trail as you join Tansy on her book route.
Tansy Calhoun, one of the packhorse librarians, is our main character who has a passion for reading and sharing that passion with others. This is a dream job to her, as she truly loves taking the books to the readers on her route. The packhorse librarians creed is similar to that of the postal service except due to safety concerns not only for themselves but for their mule or horse were home by dark. Nothing ever went to waste as magazines and books that were damaged beyond repair were cut up and made into reading/teaching stories for children. Recipes and quilt patterns were collected by the librarians from women on the librarian’s routes and made into small pamphlets to be passed around from home to home.
The banter between the characters was some of the best I have ever read. I laughed out loud and cried too. One of my favorites was Aunt Perdie praying to God “But it would be nice to have somebody to sit with me by the fire.” A few moments later a young pregnant woman, beaten, bruised, and 1/2 frozen knocks on her door. After Aunt Perdie gets her settled by the fire she remembers “Hiram used to tell her a person needed to be careful what they prayed for.”
Cannot rave enough about the character development in this story from beginning to end. Everyone always asks me who is my favorite. Hands down it is Perdita Sweet aka Aunt Perdie even though she was actually nobodies aunt and to most people not sweet. However things can happen both bad and good to change a person’s outlook on life. I recommend you read this wonderful story and you will see why I chose Aunt Perdie as my favorite.
Bless you Ann H. Gabhart for writing this story, allowing us to ride with Tansy along her book route, meet all of the wonderful people who live around the community of Booneville and view the beautiful mountain scenery.
A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Revell via NetGalley through Interviews & Reviews. I was under no obligation to write a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Deanne Patterson
I always look forward to a new book by Ann H. Gabhart, knowing I will read an informative historical book.
I have read most of her books over the years and have learned a lot about people's customs, dialect, food types, etc. There have been quite a few books out about packhorse librarians in the past several years, and this is the best I have read as far as feeling the authenticity of the situation.
The author's books are always very well researched. You feel as though you can place yourself in the setting she is writing about. You can feel the despair these mountain people have, but yet they keep going on. They are strong and have a strong faith that will bring them through their troubles.
This book was provided by Baker Publishing Group, Revell Division, through Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: June McCrary Jacobs
A realistic look at an iconic era in America's twentieth-century history . . .
This is the second book I have read by this author which was set during the Depression in Appalachia. I enjoy the author's knowledge of the subject and her gift for transporting her readers back in time to a unique place with strong, hardworking, kind people of faith. It's a time and a place when it was the norm for neighbors to help neighbors without hesitation. The author's use of the local dialect and language patterns of these humble people made the story come alive for me. From the beautiful artwork on the cover until the end of the story, I felt immersed in the culture of this tight-knit Appalachian community.
Tansy Calhoun, a single woman who has always loved to read, has been offered a job as a packhorse librarian. This outreach program was part of President Franklin Roosevelt's work program legislation to get people employed during the Great Depression. Tansy's family certainly needs the $28 she gets paid each month because her father left home to find work so help support the family.
She and the other packhorse librarians carry saddlebags filled with library materials to families along her route. She rides her route during snowstorms, rainstorms, and sunshine. The people along her route, for the most part, consider Tansy a friend. The children and the adults along the way appreciate her efforts to bring them the books, magazines, and newspapers which they would otherwise be unable to access because of their remote locations.
The characters in this book are varied. Some are lovable; some are barely tolerable—just as in real life. Many of the adults are strong-willed and stubborn, two qualities which have served them well as they try to survive through periods of great poverty, hunger, illness, and grief. I was in awe of how warm and welcoming the majority of these people were to others who were in dire need of a helping hand. Even though they didn't have much food or much space in their rustic homes, they were more than willing to share what they did have.
One of my favorite characters was Perdita Sweet. She was known as Aunt Perdie to most everyone in the community. I won't say much more about this never-married woman in her late 60s except to say that her life was beautifully transformed by love, faith, and friendship by the end of the story.
The faith thread was tightly woven throughout this story. These simple folk spoke openly from their hearts about the Lord and about their faith journeys. The themes of friendship, community, faith, and love make this an endearing story to be enjoyed by fans of Christian historical fiction and Christian historical romance.
I received a paperback copy of this book from Revell through Interviews & Reviews. My thoughts and opinions shared here are solely my own.
Reviewer: Marilene VE
Another fabulous book by Ann Gabhart is Along a Storied Trail. This book will bring you with a lovely story to the hills of Kentucky, in a village called Appalachia. That name corresponds quite a bit to the name of the horse race: Appaloosa. Horses, then, have everything to do with this book.
The main character, Tansy Calhoun is a riding librarian, at least she helps her fellow villagers by bringing books so they can read and not necessarily think about all the troubles that happened to them during the Great Depression. But Tansy hopes that eventually she too will find the love of her life, just like in the books she brings around. As a newcomer settles into the village, Tansy finds out that everything is not as simple as it seems. Is the man she hopes for closer than she thinks? And then you have Perdita or aunt Perdy, an old spinster who likes nothing better than to interfere with Tansy's choice. Is Perdita's choice also Tansy's choice?
This book was great to read. Ann Gabhart is truly a storyteller and she does it very well. I loved reading how the characters were formed and how Tansy does make her choice in the end. It was really nice to read how wise Perdita was even though she was a spinster. The faith alone did not come out very well in it. But overall is this a book that will not let you go easily.
This book has everything that a historical romance needs to have. If you loved The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow from Kim Vogel Sawyer or Wonderland Creek from Lynn Austin, then is this book definitely a match for you!
This book was provided courtesy of Revell through Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: Beverly Laude
This was a well-written and entertaining book about people living in the hills of Kentucky during the Great Depression. A group of women were chosen to be packhorse librarians, taking books and magazines to folks living up in the mountains, as part of a government program. The job is perfect for bookworm Tansy Calhoun and she takes her job seriously. No matter how horrible the weather, Tansy makes her rounds to those on her route.
One of the people on her route is Perdita Sweet, otherwise known as Aunt Perdie. Perdie surely doesn't live up to her last name. In fact, "Her trouble is she's been contrary so long she doesn't know how to be any other way." As Perdie sits in her cabin without much in the way of firewood or food, she prays that God will bring her someone to be family. Soon, a young woman, beaten and bruised and cold, appears on her doorstop, obviously pregnant. "A person needed to be careful what they prayed for."
Tansy meets a writer from NYC who is in the area collecting tales and stories to write a guide book about the mountains. Tansy is taken with Damien Felding and wonders if he might be like one of the handsome heroes of the books she reads. Thinking above herself, her father often accused. But, Tansy discovers that a young man from her past, Caleb Barton, is back home after a stint in the Civilian Conservation Corps. His brother was killed in a freak accident and his mother expects him to do as the Bible says and marry his brother's widow.
The author has done a wonderful job of intertwining these characters into a great story, full of hope and love in spite of the conditions they are forced to live in. There is plenty of inspiration throughout the book that reminds the reader that God is always with us. "The Lord ain't one to hold our sins against us if we ask forgiveness and aim to do better." She obviously knows and loves the area and it shows in her beautiful descriptions.
By the end of the book, most of the characters have found their own unique kind of happiness. As Aunt Perdie says, "I am confoundedly content. The way the Lord can bring blessings out of hard times can confound a body for certain."
This book was provided courtesy of Revell through Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: Nancy Brown
Ann Gabhart has written a warm, loving tale about mountain people during the Depression years. It's told in the dialect of the mountain people, which in itself is unique and engaging.
Tansy was an independent minded young woman who didn't want to get tied down to a family at her age, she had dreams brought about by reading books. She didn't fit the usual mold of women in the 1930s Appalachian mountains of Kentucky. Perdita Sweet was another independently minded woman, much older than Tansy, but very wise and experienced. Caleb, Tansy's neighbor and childhood companion, had left the mountains to find work to support his family, through the Corps, but his affection for home and a certain someone drew him back, to seek his heart's desire.
Amazingly, in this book, I remembered the characters names, which usually doesn't happen with me. I don't know how Ann did it, but she hit a Golden Set with this book. Her talents, gifted to her by God, are used wisely in her book, Along a Storied Trail. We hear about Jesus, which is the way it should be in a Christian writer's genre. The book isn't overly preachy, but you do get to examine with awe the beauty of what God created, as you ride along the trails with Tansy, the book woman.
The ending of the story was done so well! She could have gone one way, but the ending of Along a Storied Trail was just so succinct and refreshing. Thank you, Ann, for writing this book.
I received this paperback book courtesy of Revell through Interviews & Reviews, and was not required to give a positive review.
Reviewer: Linda Klager
This book is loaded with many interesting characters. Tansy Calhoun is a packhorse librarian during the very difficult years of the Depression in Kentucky. Many folks do not have books to read or even look at the beautiful pictures. Tansy rides her borrowed horse through all kinds of weather and is very dedicated to delivering those books and/or magazines. Tansy must depend on the generosity of others to donate books or magazines. Because of this Tansy can only give 1 book per person.
Everyone calls Perdita Sweet "Aunt Perdie". She is not an aunt to the people of her county. She never married and is down to her last bit of food when to her surprise a young pregnant woman walks through a blizzard to find shelter with Aunt Perdie. Aunt Perdie takes this young woman in, but the next day her home burns to the ground. It is a good thing that Tansy comes by to check on Aunt Perdie and Coralee and Aunt Perdie goes to live with Tansy's Mom, sister, and brother.
Caleb Barton left the area to work for the CCC headed up by President Franklin Roosevelt. After a while, Caleb heads back home because of the untimely death of his brother, Rueben. Rueben leaves a widow and son and they are struggling to get over Rueben's death. Caleb's Mother wants him to marry the widow, but Caleb only has eyes for Tansy.
Preacher Hiram Rowlett is not an official preacher, but he is very knowledgeable about the Bible and loves the people of the county, and does what he can to help. Perdita Sweet has been in love with the preacher, but she never told him her intentions. She did write a letter practically asking Hiram to marry her, but never sent the letter. She put that letter in her Mother's Family Bible.
Tansy's mother, Eugenia, has a house full of people but enjoys having Perdita and Coralee plus Junie there with her family. Her husband left the area to find work. The Depression Era was really hard on families to survive.
I enjoyed the country feel of this book. The writing was superb and one could picture the area and the way people talked and what they did on a day-to-day basis. There was a lot of beautiful family life although some of it was very difficult because of circumstances. Some danger was added to this story towards the end of the book! All I can say is "Wow!" I have read a lot of Ann H. Gabhart's books and will continue to do so.
This book was provided courtesy of Revell through Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: Lori Parrish
Gabhart's books just keep getting better and better. I know I'm in for a treat when I grab one of her books. Kentucky has such awesome history. This particular book has stolen my heart.
"Sometimes love knows no age."
How true. Love can find you anywhere, anytime, and anyplace. It doesn't matter how old or young you are. Especially if it's in God's timing.
So much was going on with the people in this book. I got caught up in their everyday lives, and I couldn't put the book down.
My favorite character was Perdita Sweet. She's what made this story, in my opinion. I loved getting to know her. Her way of words had me snickering in some places. Some I haven't heard for a long time!
My least favorite was Damien Felding. I felt that he was kind of overbearing and a know-it-all at times.My heart feels full after a good wholesome story like this one. Thanks, Ms. Gabhart, for another wonderful story, and I can't wait to see what you come out with next time! Five stars for sure!
My thanks for a copy of this book that I received from Revell through Interviews & Reviews. I was NOT required to write a positive review.
Reviewer: Anna Bottoms
I love how the author has woven the the history of the packhorse librarians into the story of Tansy Calhoun, a young woman with a love of the written word and longing for something just out of reach.
She must soon choose between the familiar offered by Caleb her friend from childhood and Damien a writer offering adventure she’s only read about. The characters are unique and well written lending authenticity to the rich depiction of life in the hills of Kentucky during the 1930s.
Aunt Perdy is lonely when a young pregnant girl shows up on her doorstep in the middle of winter. With no food to share she isn’t sure what to do but she finds a tender place in her heart for Coralee.
Fire takes her house, bringing them into the Calhoun home, making it the centerpiece of the story, showing family is much more than blood, love overcomes many circumstances, and faith brings the unexpected. God has a way of orchestrating life in the best possible ways, proving that good comes out of every situation.
This was one of my favorite books so far this year.
I was given a copy of this book courtesy of Baker Publishing Group through Interviews & Reviews via NetGalley. This is my honest opinion of the book.
Reviewer: Carolyn Bryant
This beautifully written book caught my attention from the beginning and held it to the end.
The multi-layered plot flows at a steady pace with a few surprises here and there! The characters are engaging and believable. You are kept guessing about the outcome of the relationship between packhorse librarian Tansy Calhoun, her childhood friend Caleb Barton, and visiting writer Damien Felding. Two other romances may be blooming, also!
Ms. Gabhart’s research and descriptions of the historical WPA Packhorse Library Project, and the people it helped, expressively and poignantly reflect the courageous, resilient spirit of the Appalachian Mountain people during the Great Depression Era.
The references to Jane Austin and Pride and Prejudice are delightful. I also loved the strong faith element that permeates the story. I totally enjoyed this heartwarming, captivating story. This book left me smiling, and I highly recommend it.
This book was provided courtesy of Revell through NetGalley and Interviews & Reviews, for my honest opinion.
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