Judith McCoy Miller writes amazing novels with charming characters and incredible settings. Her research is impeccable and informative. I learn something nearly every time I read one of her books.
The Chapel Car Bride taught me that there was at one time in history train cars where preachers traveled on the railroad teaching about Christ. I'd never heard of this before, but it's not outside the realms of credulity.
This takes place soon after the turn of the century of 1900s. Prohibition was about to come into play, but in West Virginia, it was already being enacted, county by county. Where prohibition exists, moonshining and bootlegging exists alongside. Moonshining is part of my family's history--a cousin and a great uncle on my mom's side of the family were the still owners, and my grandfather on my dad's side was their customer. Cousin Wesley was the grand joke of the family. If something was mentioned about illegal booze, Cousin Wesley's name was not far behind. He spent time in and out of the federal penintentiary, and often listed his occupation as "sugar delivery for Weyerhaueser." I know this world, not well, but I know it.
Another significant part of the plot is the location--the back hills of West Virginia. Hill people are hill people, no matter where they are, and Judith has written a true portrayal of the hill people in this book. They are closed off, wary of strangers, slow to trust outsiders, and definitely mistrustful of people from the government. I've lived in a community like that. Some of them believe they are a law unto themselves, and can tell stories about that, but that's for another day.
The relationships Judith has put into the plot are charming and insightful. I LOVED this book. I couldn't wait to finish it, but I wanted it to go longer. It's five stars, two thumbs up, and NO moonshine!
My thanks to Bethany House for allowing me to read and review this book.