Once Upon a Different Time
In 1884, two men set out on horseback to travel from Virginia to North Carolina. One of these men, essayist and travel writer Charles Dudley Warner, related their adventures in the Atlantic Monthly. In this slight book, author Marian Coe imagines what may have transpired during their travels – the unedited version, as it were. To that end, she adds three others to her party: a spirited young woman from the North, her chaperone aunt, and a reserved Southern guide. Feuds and romance develop along the journey as these five people brave rough terrain, weather, and occasionally strange, though hospitable, accommodations. The romance is easily predicted, but smoothly presented, and is not the main focus of this book. The sub-title of this novel is “An Appalachian Adventure inspired by the Writings of Charles Dudley Warner,” and Coe indeed makes use of the information that he left behind, interspersing Warner’s Atlantic Monthly articles with her own imaginings. Zipperlin’s sepia illustrations are delightful and impart a sense that one is reading Warner’s travel diary, sketches and notes mingled together. This is a gentle, charming tale, easily read over an afternoon.