Appalachian Summer

Written by Ann H. Gabhart
Review by Linda Harris Sittig

Set in the mountains of eastern Kentucky during the Great Depression, this novel tells the story of the Frontier Nursing Service. A relatively unknown slice of American history, the Frontier Nursing Service were women who rode horseback into the mountains to bring medical service, especially midwifery, to the hill people of Appalachia.

Young Piper Danson is being groomed to marry well, settle down, and raise a family. However, she feels a tug in her soul that she isn’t ready for that kind of life. On a whim, she persuades her parents to allow her to volunteer for the summer at the nursing center headed by Mary Breckinridge.

Left behind are two young men, Braxton Crandall, considered a catch by most women, and Jamie Russell, Piper’s closest friend since childhood. Her heart has always belonged to Jamie, but after the stock market crash, he has not returned home. Piper becomes a stronger young woman from her summer experience of living in the mountains. When presented with the idea of returning home, Piper realizes she has a choice—become one man’s wife, or reconnect with her heart.

I appreciated how much research went into this novel. I often felt as if “I were there.” And I loved learning about the Frontier Nursing Service. A map of eastern Kentucky would have been helpful to ground me in the correct geography. Recommended.