Peggy Poe Stern. Heaven-high and Hell-deep. Boone, NC: Moody Valley, 2003.

Mountain women are often noted for being strong-willed and independent. This is true of Elaine “Laine” Elder. The Appalachian teenager had already lived a difficult life before Rafford “Rafe” Johnson came into the picture. Treated like a modern-day Cinderella by her sister and hysterical mother, Laine efficiently runs the family farm while her father works at the local sawmill. When Rafe comes to the Elder homestead to ask for Laine’s hand in marriage, her downtrodden father accepts his offer to appease his wife. Although Laine barely knows Rafe, she is eager to be a good wife and to be in charge of his fine plantation house in Kentucky.

Laine’s contentment quickly evaporates as her new husband shows his true stripes as a menacing, abandoning, and cheating drunk. While Rafe is away on a trading excursion, Jonas Jones, the local doctor, pays a visit to Laine. Dr. Jones is a former acquaintance, and their friendship blossoms as Laine solicits from him information about her elusive spouse. She discovers that Rafe is lying to her; not only has he been married before but they are mere miles from Banner Elk, North Carolina – not in Kentucky. Laine realizes that she is pregnant, and she is determined to give her child a proper rearing and to improve her own situation. When Rafe, her sister, her now-widowed mother, and a panther threaten her safe haven, Laine demonstrates her grit in standing up to them and protecting her new life.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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