“As her mother gently brushed her hair, Lilly thought of the night before and how God had answered her prayers. She told her mother about the man who had set all this in motion and how she had felt called to minister to him,” Jan Watson writes in her novel, Tattler’s Branch. This two hundred and seventy-five page paperback book has a young woman dressed in early twentieth century apparel with a silver streak in her long locks of brown hair on the front cover. With no profanity, the topics of abuse, murder, and gambling mentioned would make the tome targeted toward young mature adults and older. Having Biblical verses and prayers, this is the seventh historical fiction authored by the Christian writer. Twenty-six year old Doctor Lilly Still has willingly given up a big city job to live in the small tiny coal community of Skip Rock in the Kentucky mountains in the early nineteen hundreds. While her husband is gone to other parts of the continent for mining jobs for months at a time, she runs a medical clinic to help those families that live around her. Having her younger sister, Mazy, visit for the summer helps with her loneliness and missing her spouse. Good friend and neighbor, Armina, is only twenty years old but illnesses have aged and ravaged her body and mind, producing strange dark spells, memory loss and vision problems. While picking wild berries for a pie, Armina witnesses a momentous event that makes her both bedridden and forgetful of what she saw. When a sickly orphaned baby is found at Armina’s house and the young woman cannot put the pieces together from her memory, Lilly offers medical care for the infant while the young sheriff along with helpful neighbors try to locate a parent. The small-town residents work together to find the truth behind the “defective” child as they trust God to guide and protect all those involved. With lots of medical remedies such as urine, lard and tar for scald head and old-fashioned procedures like tepid vinegar sponge baths and “catching parties” along with dated clothing styles and traditional meal recipes, there are plenty of period catch phrases that enhance the sometimes mundane, repetitive storyline. As Watson “draws the words out slow as molasses from a spoon,” she does a good job explaining the medical knowledge, newly invented appliances such as a telephone and the daily living of the time period. This book was provided by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for review purposes.
Tattler's Branch by Jan Watson is a captivating book, although it took a long while to pin down the era of the book. It deals with the darker side of humanity, but the characters are relatable. God plays a minor role in the story, but He is present. A nice book.