15 December 2017
From the Bluegrass to the Mountains
A Kentucky Christmas, edited by George Ella Lyon
This is a big book of short stories and poetry by Kentucky authors mostly taking place in Kentucky. The first few stories trace the history of Christmas celebrations in early Kentucky, including the story of a slave named Cato who is able to gain his greatest wish on Christmas Day. Some of the stories are memoirs, others are fiction.
As a whole I liked this book, although a few stories had little to do with Christmas, and a couple of others were just depressing, like the story about the mountain woman who hopes to make Christmas merry for the abused daughters of her young, callous cousin. Another story, "No Time Like Now," was very coarse and seemed to have no purpose, especially in a Christmas book. On the other hand, "Bread" was a sad, but heartwarming piece, and "Christmas Comes to Lord Calvert" had a surprise ending that made my eyebrows rise. "Letters from the Karst" chronicles the return of an addicted young woman to her family, and a secret kept. "Alene" and "When She Came to Mercy" are both heartwarmers about women who learn to live again. Another favorite was "Christmas, Down Home," about a man in a hurry to get to his family Christmas gathering due to a snowstorm, ignoring the wishes of his wife and daughter to do so.
In the end, more pluses than minuses. I suppose I don't get the full effect since I'm not from Kentucky.