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Broke Neck, Kentucky, lies deep in Appalachia. Its people are descendents of the men and women who settled the country during the Revolutionary War, and their ways have not changed much in the past two hundred years.
Shady Grove chronicles the riotous adventures and misadventures of Broke Neck's Fowler clan, among them Frony, the feisty and articulate widow who narrates the tale, and Sudley, the thrice-married farmer and quintessential "ridge man." Sudley, who wields considerable political influence among his kin and community, isn't happy when a new preacher from "outside" comes in from his city-based denomination with ideas about what's wrong in Broke Neck. What follows is a compelling example of the tension between urban viewpoints and rural traditions, a central conflict in Appalachia.
The town's delicate balance is disturbed when other outsiders -- federal revenue officials and four suitors responding to a personal ad -- converge in an unlikely climax that is both comic and telling. In her last book of fiction about her adopted Kentucky homeland, Janice Holt Giles cleverly dispels the common stereotypes of rural peoples by creating honest, believable characters who cherish their soil, churches, songs, and lines of kin. Shady Grove is a novel that makes us laugh and touches our hearts.
Janice Holt Giles (1905-1979), author of nineteen books, lived and wrote near Knifley, Kentucky, for thirty-four years. Her biography is told in Janice Holt Giles: A Writer's Life.
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