Under a Cloudless Sky by Chris Fabry, (bestselling author of War Room) is a charming and engrossing novel for fans of Southern fiction which explores the well-kept secrets of a coal-mining town in danger of being destroyed for the sake of profit.
Actually it is the story of two girls who were best friends, and what became of them.
1933. In the mining town of Beulah Mountain, West Virginia, two young girls form an unbreakable bond against the lush Appalachian landscape, coal dust and old hymns filling their lungs and hearts. Despite the polarizing forces of their fathers–one a mine owner, one a disgruntled miner –Ruby and Bean thrive under the tender care of Bean’s mama, blissfully unaware of the rising conflict in town and the coming tragedy that will tear them apart forever.
2004. Hollis Beasley is taking his last stand. Neighbors up and down the hollow have sold their land to Coleman Coal and Energy, but Hollis is determined to hold on to his family legacy on Beulah Mountain. Standing in his way is Buddy Coleman, an upstart mining executive who hopes to revitalize the dying town by increasing coal production and opening the Company Store Museum. He’ll pay homage to the past–even the massacre of 1933–while positioning the company for growth at all costs.
What surprises them all is how their stories will intersect with a feisty octogenarian living hundreds of miles away. When Ruby Handley Freeman’s grown children threaten her independence, she takes a stand of her own and disappears, propelling her on a journey to face a decades-old secret that will change everything for her and those she meets.
Chris Fabry has written many books, is a best-selling author and hosts his own show on Moody Radio. This is my first read of his, hopefully the first of many.
This is the story of two girls, best friends, in a coal-mining town in West Virginia, and what became of them. It is a fictitious story from the author’s imaginings based on the lives of real people.
To be perfectly honest I did not enjoy reading this book. But this is one of those books that stays with you and the characters grow in the reader’s mind revealing the depth of the writing, which means it is very good.
The story is dark in places, and deep, real life; with a hint of hope, faith and love. I love the use of the hymn Beulah Land in the book.
It was difficult to keep track of the characters and understand the connections until the end (no spoilers). That is also a sign of good writing. By the end of the book I understood, and continue to understand as I mull it over.
The parallel time periods might have been clearer if the chapter headings were larger, more bold. I’m tempted to re-read the book just to get the flow now that it makes sense. I think it was necessary to write this way to convey the message of the book, which is tightly woven into the story and characters, which are vivid, and the action moves right along.
I identified most with the character of Frances. What character did you like best?
I recommend this book for all readers of historical and Christian fiction, young and old. There’s something in this book for every reader. I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own.
My Rating: 3 stars
Chris’ novels, which include Dogwood, June Bug, Almost Heaven, Not in the Heart, Borders of the Heart, Every Waking Moment, The Promise of Jesse Woods, Looking into You, and his latest release, Under a Cloudless Sky, have won five Christy Awards, an ECPA Christian Book Award, and two Christianity Today Book Awards of Merit, but it’s his lyrical prose and tales of redemption that keep readers returning for more.
Chris has also published more than 70 other books, ranging from nonfiction and film novelizations, including the recent bestseller War Room, to novels for children and young adults. He coauthored the Left Behind: The Kids series with Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, as well as the Red Rock Mysteries and The Wormling series with Jerry B. Jenkins. RPM is his latest series for kids and explores the exciting world of NASCAR.
For more about the author and this book check out the downloadable Author Q & A at Tyndale House Publishing.