Still House Pond
Jan Watson excels at creating flawed yet engaging characters who rely on their faith and strong family ties while facing life’s difficult situations. Her natural storytelling talent is on full display in her fifth novel, which can be read either as a standalone work or as part of the continuing story that began with Troublesome Creek. It’s 1896 in the mountains of Kentucky, where Copper Pelfrey lives with her second husband, John, and their growing family. Copper’s skills in medicine and baby-catching are in high demand, and while most of her efforts result in successful outcomes for mother and child, poverty does take its toll on the health of some of the women. The viewpoint revolves among Copper; her eleven-year-old daughter, Lilly, an intelligent girl who enjoys exploring the natural world; and Copper’s hired girl, Manda, a naïve teenager who dreams of finding adventure and romance, just like her favorite heroine from Woman’s Home Companion magazine, and makes some bad choices in the process.
It was so easy to get drawn into the happenings of the characters’ day-to-day lives – kicking up their heels at a country dance, caring for women during childbirth, shopping for buttons and fabric for dresses – that half the novel went by without my caring that there was no central conflict. The remainder of the book deals with the aftermath of a devastating railway accident; without giving anything away, I’ll say that Copper’s heart-wrenching reaction to the news felt especially realistic. The homespun setting and uplifting tone of Still House Pond have tremendous appeal.