Tag Archives: Moonshining

Jon Sealy. The Whiskey Baron. Spartanburg, SC: Hub City Press, 2014.

 “I got greedy and thought I could get away with something.”

Mary Jane Hopewell (born Wesley Hopewell, Jr.) has been a ne’er-do-well since he came back from the Great War.  Unlike his brother who married and became a church-goer and steady worker at the mill, Mary Jane didn’t work much, preferring to spend his time drinking and scheming.  Not long after Mary Jane moves in with a widow, Abigail Coleman, he thinks he has hit pay dirt.  The widow has some of the most productive land in the county, land that she uses to grow corn.  She sells a good bit of that corn to the local whiskey baron, Larthan Tull, but she also keep some to make her own moonshine.  The widow’s moonshine is very good.  Knowing that, Mary Jane starts selling it around the county.  Tull has been looking the other way, ignoring this small scale incursion on his turf, but when Mary Jane reaches out to Aunt Lou, Tull’s distributor in Charlotte, Tull has to act.  The murder of two young men outside Tull’s inn is just the opening move in a bloody chess game between two cold, focused men.

The fictitious Castle County, South Carolina is home territory for Tull and Hopewell, but business takes them both to Charlotte to make deals with Aunt Lou.  This novel reminds readers that state borders are historical lines on paper, but culture and business flow across them–for good and ill.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Mecklenburg, Piedmont, Sealy, Jon

Sheila Turnage. The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing. New York: Kathy Dawson Books, 2014.

The Ghosts of Tupelo LandingA laugh floated down the stairway, secret and low. My heart jumped. So did Dale. “Steady, Dale,” I said, my voice shaking. “Don’t leap to conclusions. A good detective starts with the obvious and works toward the strange.”

Sixth grade is about to start, and scrappy orphan Mo LoBeau is convinced that the Desperado Detective Agency needs a new case to crack. Since the Agency (comprised of Mo, her friend, Dale Earnhart Johnson III, and his dog, Queen Elizabeth) successfully solved a murder, they’ve only been hired on for two lost pet cases. Mo wants something ground-breaking to rev up business and make a name for Dale and herself as sixth grade sleuths. Luckily, she doesn’t have to wait for long–a new case is right about to fall into her lap.

The novel opens the day of the auction of The Old Tupelo Inn, which creates big buzz around the small town of Tupelo Landing (population now 147, following the past summer’s murder). Just about everyone in the town is at the auction, including Mo, Dale and one of Mo’s caretakers, Miss Lana, the owner of the local diner and Old Hollywood aficionado. Miss Lana has her heart set on an umbrella stand, but after an unfriendly woman from out of town (dubbed “Rat Face,” by Mo) makes a move to buy the Inn, Miss Lana hastily outbids her and by accident becomes the new owner of The Old Tupelo Inn along with the partial contents of the property and some very serious fine print.

According to the fine print, the inn is haunted by a ghost. Mo, and Dale after plenty of coaxing, set out to identify the ghost. Their mission couldn’t have come at a better time. A few days later, Miss Retzyl, their new teacher, tells the class that as part of the 250th anniversary of Tupelo Landing, she wants each student to interview a town elder. Mo’s arch-enemy Anna Celeste Simpson (aka Attila) somewhat unfairly claims Mo’s adoptive grandmother and the richest and nicest old person in town, Miss Lacy Thornton.

But Mo is ready to one-up Attila. She names the unidentified ghost of The Old Tupelo Inn as her interview subject. To Mo, “there ain’t nobody older than dead.” If she and Dale can determine the ghost’s identity, then they’re sure to have the best report and earn themselves a little extra credit in the process. Finding a ghost and convincing it to reveal who it is and why it’s haunting the inn isn’t an open-and-shut case however. Meanwhile, the presence of a new boy called Harm Crenshaw in Mo’s class irks Mo almost as much as living in Tupelo Landing irks Harm. He informs everyone he meets that he is only temporarily staying in Tupelo Landing until his brother Flick (a confirmed, good-for-nothing punk) can collect him to return to Greensboro. And Miss Lacy signs on to bankroll Miss Lana’s staggering bid for the ramshackle Old Tupelo Inn, yet it surfaces that Miss Lacy might not be as rich as everyone believes her to be. Could Miss Lana and Miss Lacy’s ownership of the inn be in jeopardy?

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing is novelist Shelia Turnage’s second Mo LoBeau mystery. Turnage creates a magical setting in the fictional Tupelo Landing — it’s a wacky, charming small town. Outrageously spunky and spirited Mo has a lively voice and her narration makes the pages turn quickly. Don’t let the young adult packaging stop you from picking up Turnage’s follow-up to Three Times Lucky. With Mo as your guide, Tupelo Landing is quite an entertaining place to pass some time. Click here to read a blog post on the first novel in the series, Three Times Lucky.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Children & Young Adults, Coastal Plain, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Turnage, Sheila

Lights, Camera, Novel: Catherine Marshall’s Christy.

Christy TV SeriesSome of the best stories originate from real life, like Catherine Marshall’s 1967 novel Christy. Marshall was inspired to write her famous book based on the experiences of her mother, Leonora Whitaker, who left her family and home in North Carolina to teach at a mission school in the Appalachian Mountains in 1909. After Marshall and her parents later visited the mission school in Del Rio, Tennessee in the late fifties, Marshall wanted to tell her mother’s story. Many elements in Christy are rooted in fact. Marshall conducted extensive research into Appalachian life and culture, so even the fictionalized aspects of the novel are still well-founded.

Twenty-seven years later, Christy was developed into a TV series, which debuted on Easter Sunday on CBS. True to the novel, the show was filmed in Tennessee. Kellie Martin portrayed Christy. Tyne Daly won an Emmy for her supporting role as Alice Henderson, a Quaker missionary, and LeVar Burton joined the cast in season two. Fans of Marshall’s novel enjoyed the series, though their satisfaction was short-lived. Executives canceled the show soon after the season two finale was shot. Twenty-one episodes were filmed in all.

Viewers were upset about the cancellation because the season two series finale ended on a cliffhanger with Christy split between two very different men vying for her affection, the rugged Dr. Neil MacNeil and the handsome Reverend David Grantland. Seeking resolution, fans wrote to CBS requesting that the show be put back on the air. Five years later, in 2000, PAX network (since renamed Ion) continued the unresolved plot line in a made-for-TV movie. Some of the same actors reprised their roles, but Christy was recast using an unknown actor, Lauren Lee Smith. Three TV movies adapting Marshall’s novel were released between 2000 and 2001 giving fans the closure they were denied in the canceled TV series. The movies — Christy: Return to Cutter Gap, Christy: A Change of Seasons and Christy: A New Beginning — were filmed primarily in Canada.

Lauren Lee Smith as Christy

A book cover with Lauren Lee Smith as Christy.

Christy still boasts an active fan base. Starting in 1997, enthusiasts of the novel and TV show have met to discuss their fascination for Christy. The annual meeting was dubbed “ChristyFest,” and it often occurs in Townsend, Tennessee, the filming location of the TV show. This year ChristyFest will be held May 23-25 in Del Rio, Tennessee. From the ChristyFest site, it appears that registration will open soon.

No doubt, Christy has captured the attention of loyal fans, and the love triangle between the main characters is a big draw. In writing this post, I found evidence of a Neil and Christy fan site with photos from the TV show and the TV movies, interviews with cast members, episode guides, and analysis and more. There are also special fan fiction sites and some fictionalized Twitter accounts created from the perspectives of Christy, Neil, David, and Alice.

Catherine Marshall is recognized as a Christian writer. The Christy Awards were created to acknowledge Christian fiction writers and the three Christy TV movies were backed by the support of the now defunct PAX network, which focused on “family-based” programming. It appears that Inspiration Network, or INSP TV, currently broadcasts episodes from the Christy TV series. INSP headquarters are in the Charlotte metro area.

Kellie Martin as Christy

An audiobook cover with Kellie Martin as Christy.

Read the original blog post on Catherine Marshall’s Christy here. The complete TV series is available through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog along with the original novel and an audiobook version of the novel read by Kellie Martin.

Sources consulted here: Christianity Today, The Christy Awards, ChristyFest site and blog, Christy Fan Fiction, IMDb, Inspiration Networks/INSP TV, Neil and Christy fan site, Twitter (see paragraph above for the specific accounts), Wikipedia (Catherine Marshall, Christy [novel], Christy [TV series])

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Filed under 1990-1999, 1994, 1995, 2000, 2000-2009, 2001, Buncombe, Historical, Marshall, Catherine, Mountains, Novels by Region, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship

Ann Hite. Ghost on Black Mountain. New York: Gallery Books, 2011.

Nellie Clay falls hard for winter-eyed, curly-haired Hobbs Pritchard. In no time at all they are married, paying no heed to Nellie’s mama, who warns that she sees death in her tea leaves. It’s 1939, and despite the Depression that the country is in,  it’s the modern world. Who believes in ghosts and hoodoo? Hobbs brings Nellie home to Black Mountain, a very different world than the one Nellie grew up in near Asheville. For a time, she’s happy, despite their neighbors’ coldness and the strange rumors she keeps hearing regarding her husband. But slowly she discovers that Hobbs Pritchard isn’t the man she thought he was, and she begins to dread hearing his tires on the gravel outside.

And she begins seeing people. There’s an old woman in the house with steel gray hair, and a small man with round glasses who walks the Pritchard land. Only Shelly, the Pritchards’s sometime maid, sees them too. Nellie knows that she has to get off Black Mountain, but Hobbs is squarely in her way. One dark night everything falls apart, and Nellie does leave Black Mountain for good…or so she thinks.

Told through the eyes of five women touched by the murderous cruelty of Hobbs Pritchard, Ghost on Black Mountain is set against the rich beauty of the Appalachians. Linked by blood, common experience, and the ability to see “haints,” each woman nonetheless has a unique voice that engages the reader with its compelling tale.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Buncombe, Hite, Ann, Mountains

Lynn Boyd. The Awakened Heart.Mustang,OK:Tate Publishing, 2009.

This brief, moving novel recounts the early adult years of a Halifax County man.  Told in the form of a memoir, seventy-five year old Vernon Lee (Buddy) Young reflects on working on his family’s farm, serving in the Korean War, and meeting and marrying the love of his life, Emma Jean.  Buddy’s life was hard. His family was poor and his father was cruel.  Meeting Emma Jean changed Buddy–he found acceptance and love, and through Emma Jean’s influence he came to believe in a loving God.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Boyd, Lynn, Coastal Plain, Halifax, Religious/Inspirational

Jennifer Niven. Velva Jean Learns to Drive. New York: Plume, 2009.

Rhinestones. High-heeled cowboy boots. Hawaiian steel guitars. Many people are drawn to the bright lights of Nashville, Tennessee, and Velva Jean Hart Bright is one of them. She is enthralled by the opportunities afforded by the city and consumed with her lifelong desire to be a famous Grand Ole Opry singer. When Velva Jean was a little girl on (fictional) Fair Mountain, North Carolina, her mother supported her dream by encouraging Velva Jean to write songs and to sing for her. After her mother dies and her father abruptly leaves the family to work on the Scenic (the Blue Ridge Parkway), Velva Jean quickly grows up and puts her wish for fame on hold. At age sixteen, she marries Harley Bright, a convict-turned-traveling preacher who grew up in nearby (fictional) Devil’s Kitchen.

Harley is initially a sweet and doting husband. However, his views of marriage are very traditional. He doesn’t allow Velva Jean to drive and he forbids her beloved pastime, singing. As she gets used to married life, Velva Jean realizes Nashville may be even further from her reach. However, she is headstrong, and when Harley turns cold, controlling, and fanatical in his opposition to the Parkway and the “outlanders” that have moved in to build it, Velva Jean refuses to be acquiescent. She realizes that her dream is too much to give up for a loveless marriage, and she leaves Devil’s Kitchen – driving and singing her way to a new life.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Historical, Mountains, Niven, Jennifer, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Cotton Ketchie. Little Did They Know. Davidson, NC: Lorimer Press, 2009.

Many women like being part of a group–the monthly book club, the weekly dinner group, the daily walking crew.  But how well do we know the women we spend time with?  The once five, now four, women of the Wednesday Night Club always eat at the same restaurant in Mooresville, but when Carmen suggests that the group go to a winery in the Yadkin Valley for dinner, the other women go along.  Carmen is the newest member of the group and a bit of a hard-charger, but Joanie and Gail have no reason to question Carmen’s plans. Debbie knows what a dirty-dealer Carmen is since Carmen is carrying on with her husband, but Debbie Seacrest has not shared that sorrow with her friends.

Carmen has met her match in Kevin Seacrest–they are two people with a thirst  for the good life and a ruthless streak.  Together they hatch a plan to kidnap the other women in the dinner group and then demand ransom from Gail’s wealthy husband, James Caldwell.  James suspects trouble right away and enlist the help of his friend, Jake McLeod, whose late wife Kitt was once part of the dinner group.  Although James and Jake push the authorities to act quickly, they are no vigilantes.  They work closely with the police, including Iredell County detective Marci Meredith.

Even though Kevin Seacrest’s behavior leads the authorities in the right direction, Gail, Joanie, and Debbie spend several harrowing days on the run from Carmen and a fierce and murderous accomplice.  During that time the women depend on each other for their very lives. The women draw closer, and each woman comes out of the experience with a clearer sense of what is important in her life.  During the days of searching Jake and Detective Meredith are attracted to each other, and this plot line is merged with the capture of the last kidnapper in a satisfying ending.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Iredell, Ketchie, Cotton, Piedmont, Wilkes, Yadkin

Bob Terrell. Get Rufus! Alexander, NC: Land of the Sky Books, 2008.

Rufus Raby was an easy-going mountain lad until his friend Sid Hollifield was murdered.  Rufus is a good tracker, helping Sheriff Clure find people missing in the mountains of Jackson County.  (In return, the sheriff overlooks Rufus’s moonshining.)  Seeing Sid’s battered and snake-bitten body changes Rufus.  Finding Sid’s killer becomes his mission, but the search is also a journey for Rufus.  As his heart warms to Sid’s widow, he learns to read and write, control his impulse for revenge, and combine his new knowledge of town ways with his backwoods talents.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Jackson, Mountains, Terrell, Bob

DuBose Heyward. Angel. New York: George H. Doran Co., 1926

This novel’s North Carolina setting is a bit of a surprise since the author, DuBose Heyward, is strongly associated with that other Carolina–particularly the city of Charleston, the setting for his novel PorgyPorgy was the basis for Porgy and Bess, the play, movie and great George Gershwin opera.

Angel is set among the mountaineers of the Great Smokies.  Buck Merritt is a handsome and daring young bootlegger, and the sweet and beautiful Angel Thornley is in love with him.  Angel’s father, a preacher, is opposed to her relationship with Buck.  When Reverend Thornley betrays Buck to the revenue officers, Buck is sent away to do hard time.  What the reverend didn’t know is that Angel is pregnant with Buck’s child.   To save his reputation in the community, Rev. Thornley arranges a hasty marriage between Angel and old Stan Galloway.  Angel and her son spend six years with Galloway until the construction of a road through the mountains brings job opportunities for Galloway and a convict road crew that includes Buck.

This is a lyrical novel that conveys both the beauty of the mountains and the values of the individuals who live there.  The scenes at Rev. Thornley’s revival services are especially vivid.

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

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Filed under 1920-1929, 1926, Heyward, DuBose, Mountains

Andrew Carey Lincoln. Motorcycle Chums in the Land of the Sky. Chicago: M. A. Donohue, 1912.

Four young boys from the North seek adventure in the mountains around Asheville.  They find hospitable Southerners, ornery sheriffs, runaway horses, moonshiners, and a long-lost brother. The plot might not hold the attention of the YouTube generation, but the cover illustration will delight all who see it.

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

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Filed under 1910-1919, 1912, Buncombe, Children & Young Adults, Lincoln, Andrew Carey, Mountains