Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Skip Rock Shallows by Jan Watson

From the back cover: Lilly Gray Corbett has just graduated from medical school and decided to accept an internship in the coal camp of Skip Rock, Kentucky. Her beau, Paul, is doing his residency in Boston and can’t understand why Lilly would choose to work in a backwater town. But having grown up in the mountains, Lilly is drawn to the stubborn, superstitious people she encounters in Skip Rock—a town where people live hard and die harder and where women know their place. Lilly soon learns she has a lot to overcome, but after saving the life of a young miner, she begins to earn the residents’ trust.

As Lilly becomes torn between joining Paul in Boston and her love for the people of Skip Rock, she crosses paths with a handsome miner—one who seems oddly familiar. Her attraction for him grows, even as she wrestles with her feelings and wonders what he’s hiding.

My review: It's an enjoyable story. However, I wonder how many young Kentucky women became medical doctors in the early 1900s. If you accept that premise, the rest of the story is believable and well-crafted. Watson's characters seem real, and most of them are likeable. The language she uses adds to the "country" feel of the story-telling. I do think she could have wound the story up a bit sooner than she did. About three quarters of the way through, I knew how it would end and wondered why it was taking so long to conclude the story. Still, I recommend it as a fun summer read.

Watson won the Jerry B. Jenkins Operation First Novel contest in 2004 with Troublesome Creek, the first installment in a series of stories set in Eastern Kentucky coal country around the turn of the 19th-20th centuries. See the list on her website. The main character in this book, Lilly, was introduced in a previous book. I think I'll go back and start with Troublesome Creek.

Disclaimer: This book was not given to me by the author or the publisher.

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