Along a Storied Trail

Reviewed by:

Emma Holley from Fraziers Bottom, WV, a Professional Writing student at Taylor University in Upland, IN.



Along a Storied Trail


Ann H. Gabhart



Publication Date:



Print book


344 pages


Tansy Calhoun is a packhorse librarian, delivering books to needy clients in the Appalachian Mountains. It’s a miracle she has a job to support her mother and siblings, as it’s unlikely for a woman to get work during the Great Depression. Tansy loves to get wrapped up in a good story, but her life is nowhere near as romantic as the books she reads. When an author from New York City arrives to write about her rural Kentucky community, she is over the moon for him. But another man may have his eyes on her…

Meanwhile, Caleb Barton returns home after a season of chopping trees in North Carolina. When his life is turned upside down by tragedy, he must choose between the woman he’s sworn to protect and the woman he loves.

Cantankerous “Aunt” Perdie Sweet is desperate for a warm house and food on her table. When an unexpected visitor comes to her doorstep, Perdie is reluctant to open her heart. With a little help, she just might find the visitor is an answer to prayer.

As a native West Virginian, I enjoyed this book’s Appalachian setting, and I was delighted by every use of authentic mountain slang. Gabhart does an excellent job portraying a little-known era of history without resorting to hillbilly stereotypes of Kentuckians. According to her website, the Christian romance author grew up on a small farm in Kentucky, giving the book a layer of authenticity. Her book is well-researched and sparked my interest in the variety of projects the WPA organized during the Depression. Curious readers can find more information about this period in history on Gabhart’s blog.

The author excels at crafting her characters with care. Perdie Sweet quickly became my favorite for her grumpy personality, making her character development feel realistic. Though she is memorable, it’s the side characters who steal the show. As mentioned below, characters are devout (though flawed) Christians who frequently pray and quote Scripture. Gabhart balances the faith-based elements of the story with the plot nicely, so it rarely feels overbearing.

This book is in no way perfect, however. The first few chapters are a slow burn, as they contain a lot of exposition that could’ve been sprinkled into narration throughout the book. I thought the protagonist was interesting, but at times fell flat compared to the dynamic personalities surrounding her. While the book has a realistic tone to match the historical setting, there are scenes toward the end of the book that break a reader’s suspension of disbelief. The dramatic climax, which features a natural disaster, feels too over-the-top for the story Gabhart tells. Finally, while most of the characters’ plots are tied in a bow by the end, I was left with several burning questions regarding plot holes.

Overall, Along a Storied Trail is a good read for those looking to learn about life in rural Kentucky in the 1930s. It is especially good for Christian readers looking for a clean romance with characters that model strong Christian morals. While the plot drags at times, readers should stick with this story for its excellent redemption arcs.



3 out of 5

Suggested Audience

Women will enjoy this Christian historical romance novel. (Spoilers) While there is no graphic content, parents should keep in mind that a teenage character’s arc revolves around her pregnancy after her lover takes advantage of her. The author does not glorify her situation, instead showing her gratitude for the chance to be a mother despite her circumstances. She gives birth to her daughter at the end of the book – again, nothing graphic is depicted.

Christian Impact

Every character in this story prays, whether they are in need, giving thanks, or praising the Lord. There is no language, though characters use euphemisms for sex in reference to a young woman’s pregnancy. Tansy and Caleb show kindness to others through their words and actions. They are not perfect; Tansy is naïve and at times follows her heart rather than her head. Caleb is eager to start a new life with Tansy and struggles not to rush their relationship. The author’s complex characters are good examples of realistic Christians. Characters are redeemed by the Lord’s grace and recognize that God is with them in difficult circumstances. I enjoyed that this book didn’t shy away from difficult issues, but instead showed how God works through them.

Along a Storied Trail

About ECLA Web Team

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals. This account is managed by the ECLA Web Team.

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