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Along a Storied Trail

by Ann H. Gabhart

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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 for Interviews & Reviews. I was under no obligation to write a favorable review. All opinions are my own. ( )
  ladyansel | Sep 8, 2021 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I’ve read a few books on this subject that showed job challenges and how it was difficult to get people to use the packhorse library service. What makes this story different is how this gifted author has readers experience this challenging job though the eyes of a 20-year-old Tansy Calhoun who was raised in the hills, loves her job, has a passion for reading and shares that passion with others in her community. Tansy spends long hours in the Appalachian Mountains delivering books, and sometimes reading them to the children before she goes to her next stop. It was fun to learn how Tansy and her co-workers used the old torn donated magazines to make fun, colorful books for kids to read.

I was drawn into this story through believable characters like Tansy Calhoun, and Caleb Barton who both love their home, family, and the community they grew up in. The author reveals how they learned how to care for their neighbors as everyone was struggling, there was no shame in it. I also enjoyed other characters like Damien Feldings and the old cranky, prickly Perdita Sweet who give readers a good look at the community and an insight into their beliefs about love, marriage and how the town’s people felt about change. There were threads of faith and hope I enjoyed. I felt part of this group. I enjoyed these authors well timed humor sprinkled throughout the novel, like this quote from cranky Perdita, “Perdie prays that God will bring her someone to care for. Soon, a young woman, beaten, bruised and cold, appears at her front door. She says, “A person needed to be careful what they prayed for.”

This story will tug at your heart and give you a peek at other jobs created during this time such as the writing project Damien was involved in, and where Caleb worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps where he planted trees. He learned about the chestnut trees. He was the first to noticed there was a problem with them. All this gave readers a well-rounded look at the struggles people endured and how they creatively worked together to make it through this touch patch.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have received a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
The Book Club Network blog www.bookfun.org ( )
  norastlaurent | Jul 14, 2021 |
This is a wonderful book that gives us a glimpse into a time period where folks worked hard to survive. I really enjoyed getting to know Tansy. Her love of books makes her perfect as a packhorse librarian. It must have been hard taking books to people way up in the mountains during all kinds of weather. She loved doing it because it gave others enjoyment . Can you imagine the only was to get books was to rely on someone who came by horse? I thought it was sad that the books were not in good shape and outdated. It was interesting to read how much getting books has changed. It makes me appreciate libraries so much more.

There is much to love about the book as we find two men vying for the attention of Tansy. One is familiar to her and the other is a new addition to the town. I can see how Tansy’s head was turned by the new fellow. After all he is polished, full of adventure and nice to look at. However, sometimes looks can be deceiving.

The best character of the book for me was Aunt Perdie. She is one firecracker not to be messed with . She is full of stories that can keep you entertained for days. Her cat is not friendly and Aunt Perdie is definitely someone you want on your side. I liked how in the wake of a disaster she still finds something to be thankful for. As we get to know Perdie we can see the heartaches she has overcome and the wisdom she has gained. I loved following along the trail as tragedy, forgiveness and hope bring this story to a great ending.

I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads . The review is my own opinion. ( )
  Harley0326 | Jul 8, 2021 |
I have always found it interesting learning about the librarians that went out on horseback and other means to take books to those who could not come and get them. It would be an interesting job to have as you would get to go and see all the neighbors, although the travel might be a bit much. Tansy Calhoun has such a job and while delivering her books often has time to daydream and one day thinks that her dreams have come true as a new man comes to town. She has to decide though what is best, what her heart, or head (and others) think as she continues down her path.

I received a copy to read, the review is mine. ( )
  polarmath | Jun 30, 2021 |
The gorgeous cover is a great introduction to a story full of rich history and characters. I liked the unique background of this novel and I learned a lot about the culture and history of the setting in this novel. The beautiful setting was indeed easy to picture with the vivid descriptions. The characters were endearing and likeable. I enjoyed the lessons and growth learned by the characters throughout the novel. I thought the writing drew me into the story easily and allowed me to immerse myself into the book. There were slow moments in the novel, but overall, I did enjoy it. I look forward to more by this talented author. I recommend this novel to those who love historical fiction!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Publishing. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. ( )
  lifeofliterature | Jun 30, 2021 |
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