So here’s the thought process: A friend recommended I change the name “Maisie” of Maisie’s List to something a little easier on the ear. Viewing a list of popular names around 1980, when the character was born, I came across “Christy.” I have a friend named Christy whom I love a lot, and who serves as the perfect inspiration for the character. When I tied together the names “Christy” and “Peter,” her husband, it sparked a memory: Peter Marshall, his wife Catherine, and her book, Christy. I knew this book as a child at my grandparents’ house in the late 60’s and early 70’s.
Catherine Marshall based Christy on her mother’s experience as a teacher in Appalachia. While it does include a love story, the driving force of the book is her experiences with the people she finds there and how she develops respect for their culture and their tenacity in the face of serious hardships. Coincidentally I was watching the movie, Songcatcher, last night, which is about the very same thing.
I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, where the opinion on the people who lived in the Smoky Mountains could best be described as condescension. The home of Vanderbilt University and the Parthenon considered itself the cultural center of the region, and “hillbillies” were unsophisticated and illiterate. Christy challenged that view and taught me a new respect for those who overcame challenges I would never know. It is an excellent book, an easy read, and I recommend it highly as a brief summer diversion. I’m going to download it on my Kindle when I get done with this post.
(I just realized that my characters, Peter and Christy, grew up in Knoxville, even though Christy’s List is set in Atlanta. Isn’t it interesting the way your heart can be called back to a place over and over? I’ll have to think about what the cosmos is trying to tell me with this one.)
There’s another book by Catherine Marshall that I intend to download: A Man Called Peter. It is a biography of her husband, Peter Marshall, a Scotsman turned American who was a well-known and inspiring minister during his short life. Theirs is one of the great love stories of history, but what is more significant to us today is his wisdom. I’ll share some of his reflections here to lift you up as you go through your day:
When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.
Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.
A different world cannot be built by indifferent people.
There are many others, of course; he was a preacher after all.
Thanks for sharing this memory with me. Perhaps I will find more to remark on when I re-read these books as an adult. Perhaps you will have comments of your own. I look forward to “hearing” them, every one.