CATALOOCHEE

Named for the Big and Little Cataloochee Creeks, now part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this novel by Wayne Caldwell recounts the lives and generations of fictional men and women living in these mountains during the last half of the nineteenth century and the turn of the twentieth.

Years ago my husband and I camped in the park. I remember we were told of a few families who still lived on the park land. They had been granted the right to stay until they died or decided to move.

Caldwell writes his in the mountain language of the time. When I pick up this book, I become part of the generations of the interwoven families. A death brings tears to my eyes, a birth brings a smile.

The unfamiliar expressions are often amusing, and sometimes make me laugh aloud. One such quote about Ezra, a mostly unlovable protagonist, who has been given some mountainous acreage, reads:

He looked to the north and spied a boulder on one side of the laurel hell that marked the edge of the one flat place on the piece. The flat might accommodate a cabin big enough to cuss a cat if a fellow didn’t mind hair in his mouth…. Ezra shivered and muttered “Hellfire” over and over.

Caldwell’s book brings these people to life. An enjoyable read!

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