A Still Small Voice
A Still Small Voice is a beautiful novel reminiscent of Frazier’s Cold Mountain not only because of the Civil War time period but also in its poetry and the author’s tender regard for his characters. The novel is comprised of the recollections of Alma Flynt, who records them at the request of her family. It effectively chronicles Alma’s physical and emotional maturation from the time of her birth in 1852 through age 21.
Orphaned at the age of four during a cholera outbreak, young Alma relates what she can remember of the three years she spends in a Richmond, Virginia, orphanage, where loneliness and hunger figure prominently. Alma is seven years old when her widowed Aunt Bettina Flynt Evans arranges for Alma to join her in Cotterpin Creek, Kentucky.
Alma finds herself in the midst of a tightly knit though socially and economically diverse community. Unaccustomed to sufficient food, clothing and love, Alma is shy and withdrawn and adjusts only gradually. Aunt Bettina is a healer with a high regard for all of nature and for every living creature. Her healing skills are her livelihood as she barters her medicinals for whatever goods or services she needs. Among Alma’s neighbors are the well-to-do horse farmers, and slaveholders, the Clevelands. She develops and immediate and lasting bond with young John Warren Cleveland as he shares with her the intricacies of horse training (clearly a favorite topic of the author) and the childhood delights inherent in bluegrass country.
As the South secedes from the Union, Alma’s Kentucky community is deeply divided and thrown into the fear, horror and deep sadness of war. Overrun first by Confederate and then Union armies, the Cotterpin Creek community is politic and circumspect in all its dealings, and so it adapts and survives, as does Alma. She discovers over time that she must never cease to change and adapt in order to evolve and grow.
Several themes figure prominently in A Still Small Voice. Most evident are human adaptability and ingenuity, respect for all creation, and the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation, all intertwined with a deep (though never heavy-handed) spirituality. A Still Small Voice is a thoughtful and reflective novel, with memorable characters in believable situations true to the actual circumstances of Kentuckians during the Civil War. The novel should have broad appeal.