REVIEW: I totally enjoyed The Saints of Swallow Hill by Donna Everhart. My first book of hers was The Moonshiner’s Daughter. These books were similar in that they took place in a time period of the past and not the present. The characters were not wealthy. They were on the poor side and doing what needed to be done to survive. I think that helps brings out emotion and grabs your attention.
The majority of this book took place at a turpentine camp in the south. I’ve read of other work camps where folks went to work to earn a living for their families during the depression. The sad part is they are most often paid in scripts which is only accepted at the company store. So, you can already guess that they don’t make enough and wind up in a hole they will never get out of. I am not sure how our government let that happen. Their earnings had the housing cost deducted as they had to pay to live in the shacks. My heart broke for the people that felt they had nowhere else to turn and were taken advantage of.
Donna Everhart brings out the feel of the time, being caught in a vicious cycle they will never get out of. If they leave the camp in the middle of the night or sneak off without paying, they are hunted down for stealing. They were often killed and if they didn’t meet quotas, they were punished. It was a very hard life.
I was involved with these characters and what they went through to survive. I’ve heard stories all of my life about the hard times my own family went through during the depression. I think they were lucky to be able to live with other family and pool their resources to eat and keep a roof over their heads. Some people were not that fortunate.
If you enjoy reading about other time periods and other ways of life, you will enjoy this book. Donna has a way of writing that lets you get into the time period, the location and the characters lives. Her writing flows so well that you find yourself falling into the dialect and understanding it without any problems. I highly recommend this book. It will definitely make you count your blessings.
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SYNOPSIS: Where the Crawdads Sing meets The Four Winds as award-winning author Donna Everhart immerses readers in a unique setting—a turpentine camp buried deep in the vast pine forests of Georgia during the Great Depression—for a captivating story of friendship, survival, and three vagabonds’ intersecting lives…
It takes courage to save yourself…
In the dense pine forests of North Carolina, turpentiners labor, hacking into tree trunks to draw out the sticky sap that gives the Tar Heel State its nickname, and hauling the resin to stills to be refined. Among them is Rae Lynn Cobb and her husband, Warren, who run a small turpentine farm together.
Though the work is hard and often dangerous, Rae Lynn, who spent her childhood in an orphanage, is thankful for it–and for her kind if careless husband. When Warren falls victim to his own negligence, Rae Lynn undertakes a desperate act of mercy. To keep herself from jail, she disguises herself as a man named “Ray” and heads to the only place she can think of that might offer anonymity–a turpentine camp in Georgia named Swallow Hill.
Swallow Hill is no easy haven. The camp is isolated and squalid, and commissary owner Otis Riddle takes out his frustrations on his browbeaten wife, Cornelia. Although Rae Lynn works tirelessly, she becomes a target for Crow, the ever-watchful woods rider who checks each laborer’s tally. Delwood Reese, who’s come to Swallow Hill hoping for his own redemption, offers “Ray” a small measure of protection, and is determined to improve their conditions. As Rae Lynn forges a deeper friendship with both Del and Cornelia, she begins to envision a path out of the camp. But she will have to come to terms with her past, with all its pain and beauty, before she can open herself to a new life and seize the chance to begin again.
“Fans of Sarah Addison Allen won’t be able to put it down.” – Booklist