Kind-of True Story
It's 1956, and orphan Hannah Wright escapes from Toronto to Springhill, Nova Scotia, hoping her one living relative, an aunt, will take her in, at least temporarily. She finds the bustling Percy family are only too happy to have her stay, which leaves her with the challenge of finding a job. There isn't a lot of call for music teachers in the impoverished town where the main employer is the coal mine that killed her father the day she was born.
Although the characters in Song of Springhill are fictional, the plot is set against the backdrop of real historical events: the 1956 mine explosion, the 1957 Main Street fire, and the 1958 bump. I've read several novels over the last few months where the plot was based on real events, and they've all come up short for me. The plots have felt contrived and preachy, as though the characters only exist to follow the Real Story.
Song of Springhill is the exception. Cheryl McKay has taken what could have been a depressing and contrived plot and turned it into something special, and I think the difference is the characters. While Hannah, Abigail, Josh and Liesel aren't real people, they feel like real people, and surely that's the ultimate aim of good fiction. I cared for them. I wanted them to be happy. And I especially wanted Hannah to learn that God is good, even in the midst of her troubles.
"Had she spent too much of her live focusing on what God wasn't doing rather than what he was? Had she missed all of his little graces?"
In summary, I really enjoyed Song of Springhill. It was an original plot with fascinating characters, and backed up by solid writing. Recommended.
Thanks to Cheryl McKay for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Cheryl at her website.