Adele Holmes, MD
She Writes Press
Published August 9, 2022
Amazon | Goodreads
About the book
Forty-six-year-old Madeline Fairbanks has no use for ideas like “separation of the races” or “men as the superior sex.” There are many in her dying Southern Appalachian town who are upset by her socially progressive views, but for years—partly due to her late husband’s still-powerful influence, and partly due to her skill as a healer in a remote town with no doctor of its own—folks have been willing to turn a blind eye to her “transgressions.” Even Maddie’s decision to take on a Black apprentice, Ren Morgan, goes largely unchallenged by her white neighbors, though it’s certainly grumbled about. But when a charismatic and power-hungry new reverend blows into town in 1917 and begins to preach about the importance of racial segregation, the long-idle local KKK chapter fires back into action—and places Maddie and her friends in Jamesville’s Black community squarely in their sights. Maddie had better stop intermingling with Black folks, discontinue her herbalistic “witchcraft,” and leave town immediately, they threaten, or they’ll lynch Ren’s father, Daniel. Faced with this decision, Maddie is terrified . . . and torn. Will she bow to their demands and walk away—or will she fight to keep the home she’s built in Jamesville and protect the future of the people she loves, both Black and white?
What a good debut novel and while set in 1917, it has a relevant message today. It is beautifully written and hard to put down. Maddie is a great woman lead, being both a healer and taking on society by taking on a black apprentice, inspiring Hannah to follow in her footsteps.
It’s a mix of mystery, historical fiction and a statement on women’s and civil rights. There are layered characters and an intriguing plot with a few twists to keep you on your toes.
I am not always a fan of historical fiction, but it is amazing how a book set in Appalachia 100 years ago could shine a light on some of society’s struggles today.