SPIRIT OF THE VALLEY – Jane Shoup
A Perfect 10
Green Valley Series , Book 2
Green Valley, Virginia, 1883
It took her husband punching Jake, their four-year-old son, to finally make Pauline Ray take the children and flee. He had abused her for years, but this was too much. Pauline took the thirty-three dollars and change she had squirreled away out of the house money to use when the time came and bought train tickets out of Indiana. After taking a misleading route, Pauline, Jake, and Rebecca, eight, reached the small town of Green Valley in Virginia. The first step was to find a place to stay and look for work. The little family lucked out. They were directed a ways out of town to the home of two sisters, AprilMay and Princess (Cessie) Blue. (Their mother had a fancy for unusual names.) The Blue sisters welcomed them with open arms and, before long, had hatched a plan. Pauline was to be the estranged daughter of their good friend and neighbor, the more or less reclusive Lionel Greenway, who died a few years earlier leaving his cottage and some acreage to the Blues, who had no need of them. Pauline became Lizzie, the widowed Elizabeth Anne Greenway Carter, and the little family moved in.
The ruin of Jeremy Sheffield's life began eleven years ago when his sixteen year-old sister Jenny Lynn drowned in the pond, his mother died of grief, his father took his own life, and the bank took the farm. Was it survivor's guilt that caused Jeremy to work long days of cold and wet in a coal mine instead of on a farm or ranch? The vision of the new woman in town stirred a spark in Jeremy, and when he found out she was a widow who moved into the rundown Greenway cottage and needed help fixing it up, he offered his services on his time off…part Saturdays and all day Sundays. As Lizzie had no money to hire him, they struck a bargain. He would work for home-cooked meals…and the use of the spare room while there. Lizzie could hardly believe she trusted a man.
SPIRIT OF THE VALLEY offers a roller coaster ride of emotions. Yet the lead characters are wonderful and their story ultimately uplifting. Lizzie and Jeremy both remain good people in spite of the bad treatment life dished out to them. Jeremy has a long way to go to forgive himself, but Lizzie begins to blossom in her new identity. AprilMay Blue is a delight, an outspoken, generous lady in trousers. Her sister is as kindhearted and with a tale of her own. Green Valley is home to a variety of others,good and bad, rich and poor, and in the middle, many whom readers might have met in book one of the series, DOWN IN THE VALLEY.
The complex plot takes many turns, some scary, all riveting. Just as I couldn't help but care for so many of the characters, I couldn't help getting caught up in the story. So much so that there was no hesitation at all in awarding SPIRIT OF THE VALLEY a rare Perfect 10.