Review: An Appalachian Summer, by Ann H. Gabhart

book coverSynopsis

Discover what happens when one intrepid young woman steps away from the past into a beautiful, wide-open future

In 1933 Louisville, Kentucky, even the ongoing economic depression cannot keep Piper Danson’s parents from insisting on a debut party. After all, their fortune came through the market crash intact, and they’ve picked out the perfect suitor for their daughter. Braxton Crandall can give her the kind of life she’s used to. The only problem? This is not the man–or the life–she really wants.

When Piper gets the opportunity to volunteer as a horseback Frontier Nursing courier in the Appalachian Mountains for the summer, she jumps at the chance to be something other than a dutiful daughter or a kept wife in a loveless marriage. The work is taxing, the scenery is jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and the people she meets along the way open a whole new world to her. The longer she stays, the more an advantageous marriage slips from her grasp. But something much more precious–true love–is drawing ever closer.


Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book from the publisher, the words and opinions below are my own.

Book covers have never grabbed my attention the way they do other people’s. Perhaps it’s because I’m used to finding books on a library shelf where they’re all lined up with the spine facing out, or from reading some of the old books my grandmother had which didn’t have illustrated covers. Who knows? But there’s something about the cover to An Appalachian Summer that grabs me, and I think it’s that sun peeking over the tree line. Is it rising or setting? I can’t tell, but I can feel its warmth.

An Appalachian Summer is the second of Ann H. Gabhart’s books about the Frontier Nursing Service in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. It is set some 12 years prior to the events of These Healing Hills and focuses on the couriers who provided support for the nurses and midwives. These young women, from what I could gather by reading the book, ran errands for the medical staff, carried medications between FNS properties and patients, took care of the horses, and accompanied the medical staff on visits to patients. They were already expected to know how to ride, but it seems that many of them didn’t have other skills such as the ability to cook!

The theme of this book appears to be that money can’t buy happiness or love. Piper’s long-term financial security can be assured if she marries Braxton (a man she hardly knows) and not Jamie (a childhood friend whose family’s wealth didn’t survive the Financial Crash of 1929). It’s not that she even must marry; her spinster aunt has done well financially working for the family business but admittedly is lonely. Aunt Truda had wanted to marry a man below her status, but her father didn’t agree to the match. On the other hand, the Appalachian people have hard lives but look to be more content with their lot. There’s also a camaraderie among them that doesn’t exist near as much among the well to do.

Gabhart’s coming of age novel evokes feelings of nostalgia, for a place and time that few of us have experienced. We journey with Piper along forested trails, cross swinging bridges on foot or ford creeks on horseback, meet those who’ve never left the mountains and wonder if they’re safe or even sane, and come to care for the animals just as she does. And, after the final page, we wonder where Piper’s journey through life will take her next. (I don’t remember her being in the earlier published yet set later book.)

Product Information

Publisher: Revell (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 30 June 2020

Book Information



Ann Gabhart photoAuthor Information

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels–The Refuge, The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted–as well as other historical novels, including Angel Sister, These Healing Hills, and River to Redemption. She and her husband live on a farm a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Ann enjoys discovering the everyday wonders of nature while hiking in her farm’s fields and woods with her grandchildren and her dog, Frankie.

Ann H. Gabhart’s Website



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