Take This Journey of Broken Souls Restored
and Tentative Hearts Brought Fully to Life
When family tragedy derails Henry Phillips's college studies, he's left unmoored and feeling abandoned. The only things that can tamp down his grief are the family farm, his fiddle, and an unexpected friendship with sweet but unusual preteen Mayfair Hoffman.
Unfortunately, Mayfair's older sister, Margaret, despite her spray of freckles and cute, turned-up nose, has a completely different effect. His grandmother's helper, she's always around, ready to push his buttons, and it seems at first that she doesn't care about his troubles.
Henry soon realizes, though, that Margaret's facing her own struggles. Mayfair's health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries. Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as potential tragedy collides with growing hope in a warm story of family bonds and the surprising ways healing finds us all.
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I fell in love with Sarah Loudin Thomas' writing with her debut novel Miracle in a Dry Season. The story centered around Casewell & Perla Phillips before they were married. I became so attached to the characters and looked forward to reading about what they had been up to since the closing chapter.
In Thomas' newest novel, Until the Harvest, we get to see where the people of Wise, West Virginia have been and continue our acquaintance with these complex citizens. The story begins on New Year's Eve of 1975. With the opening lines we are introduced to Casewell and Perla's son Henry. Henry is a talented fiddle player and takes any opportunity he can to play and earn a bit of extra cash.
In fact Henry loves playing the fiddle so much that he has decided to put that first ahead of his college studies. This causes a bit of a rift with his parents but when a tragedy unexpectedly strikes the Phillips family all thoughts of music and college are put on the back-burner.
We're also introduced to Margaret Hoffman and her sister Mayfair. Margaret is a part-time housekeeper for Emily Phillips, Henry's grandmother. Margaret and Mayfair come from a stressful home and find solace in spending as much time as possible at Emily's house. Mayfair is a quiet soft-spoken girl that Margaret does all she can to protect.
In the town of Wise there is much healing that needs to take place, both physically and spiritually. It is soon discovered that Mayfair has somewhat of a gift of healing. But the gift comes at a great cost to Mayfair.
I am holding my breath and crossing my fingers that this story line continues on into several more novels. There are so many people that I would love to know more about. Thomas' writing style is engaging and allows you to step into the story as if you were a bystander in each scene. The setting is unique and I enjoy the way that the author allows the idiosyncrasies of the place and dialect of the people to come through without it becoming a mockery of the native residents.
If you like Jan Karon novels I think you may be interested in this set of stories as well. Start with the novella Appalachian Serenade that sets the stage for Miracle in a Dry Season. You'll fall in love with some lovable and eccentric people like Frank Post and the Talbot sisters. You'll also discover what it is like to live in a small town. The good, the bad and most importantly the love and concern shown to neighbors and friends.