This debut novel was a delightful trip down memory lane. If you remember fried Spam and Tang for breakfast, you'll love this novel. If you're too young to remember ducktail haircuts, read this novel and be introduced to an era we Baby Boomers remember well.
The setting is the early 1960s Eden Hill, Kentucky. A small town where everybody knows everybody else. The peacefulness of the town is tested when a young couple shows up and the husband buys a vacant lot and begins the process for building a franchise service station. It will be right across the street from Virgil's old service station that's been there for years.
How Virgil and the rest of Eden Hill accommodate this intrusion makes for a fine novel. Virgil struggles with it. Is he to compete or is he to be a good neighbor? He knew times were changing but was unsure what to do about it. How was he to obey God's command to be a good neighbor yet provide for his own family?
Virgil is just one of the many characters in this novel that tug at your heart. There is a Baptist pastor who loves the people of the town yet faces a quandary. When all is not right in Eden Hill, should he meddle? There is a crotchety old church member who complains about everything. There are farmers and storekeepers. There is Virgil's wife, a woman trying to make her way through a time of change and modernity. There is the young, would be service station owner with a wife and newborn daughter.
The novel brings out many issues of the day. Franchise businesses were getting popular in a time when owning your own business was the American dream. Some of the parent companies would burden their franchise owners with huge financial debts. More generic issues include arrogance, compassion, and racial tension.
There are some funny times in this novel too. Virgil's wife loves to try new recipes. She makes a casserole of cauliflower, rutabagas, eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini. On top? Coconut and whipped cream. The cornstarch package showing the recipe on the side panel said it could also be served as dessert. Only in the 60s!
This is a rewarding nostalgic journey to a time when women made their own clothes, gas sold for under thirty cents a gallon, and neighbors helped one another. I recommend it to those who like the Mitford novels or ones similar.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
Great Debut Novel - Love These Small Town Southern Characters!
July 5, 2016
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
If youd enjoy a delightful story of small town Southern life in the 1960s, look no further than Bill Higgs debut novel Eden Hill. You may just recognize a few characters as Virgil and Mavine weave their way amongst complicated relationships with family, neighbors and business colleagues. Higgs sets the perfect scene in a fictional Kentucky town where the very mention of tuna casserole and weekly beauty parlor visits were reminiscent of my own childhood in Georgia. Ultimately, Eden Hill is a story of redemption and grace through the lens of ordinary people like you and me. A very satisfying summer read. ~ Lucinda Secrest McDowell, author Dwelling Places EncouragingWords.net