Marshall, Catherine. 1967. Christy.
Except for a brief prologue, Christy is set in the mountains of Tennessee (the Smokies) in the early 1910s (the novel opens in 1912, and I *believe* it covers maybe a year to two years tops. So probably 1912-1913 or possibly even 1914). Christy Huddleston is our heroine. She is nineteen and leaving her home in Asheville, North Carolina. Her mission is to teach in a one-room school house, a school started by a mission, in Cutter Gap, a small mountain community. She's in for quite a culture shock let me tell you. I think we would all be in for a culture shock. What we see is life through her eyes--at first innocent and naive--but later as she's grown and matured through the eyes of love, mercy, and grace.
Based on a true story, Christy is a coming-of-age story. One woman, one small but determined young woman, who is out to save the world one child, one adult, at a time. Her optimism, her hope, her love is balanced with the gritty portrayal of harsh, often-primitive conditions. It's not only the landscape that is harsh and rugged, but the mindset as well. Christy travels from the twentieth century modern world to the mountains where feuds and murders and such are common. It's not all ugly and harsh, there are things of great beauty, great joy, as well. Christy sees it all--the good, the bad, the ugly, the regrettable, the hopeful and inspiring.
Part story. Part commentary. Christy is an enjoyable book. I'm not sure all readers will appreciate these little asides that document the life of a school teacher, the life of a Christian, but I believe many will. Christy, like so many other young people, is on quest to see who she is and what she's made of. She's a bit unsure of herself. She's full of questions but not on answers. Her quest to grow, to learn, to understand is one that I feel most can relate to in one way or the other.
There is some romance. But I'd hesitate to classify it fully as a romance. I think it would probably be found wanting if you stuck that label on it. Yes, there is a love story. But it is just one of the small threads running through the novel. It is a story about humanity, about life, about death, about friendship, about finding meaning and significance in all our days. It's an emotional journey, a realistic journey.
There have been at least two adaptations of Christy. There was a television show starring Kellie Martin, and there were a series (three) of made-for-television movies starring Lauren Lee Smith. Both versions featured Stewart Finlay-McLennan as Doc MacNeill. That was a good thing. I admit I have a weakness for the third and final movie, Choices of the Heart, part 2. Though all adaptations take some liberty with the book.
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