By: Suzanne Mays
Publisher: Mountain Girl Press
Publishing Date: November 2010
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: May 30, 2013
There are very few writers who can create a 'jewel,' but Suzanne Mays has done just that. The beauty is found in the delivery of this tale, as readers feel like they are literally back in the time of the Civil War era; feeling the veil of sadness hanging over their world as brother fights brother.
The Man Inside the Mountain is set during the last few months of the Civil War and follows the Bell family, or more specifically, the life of mother Essie Bell. She's a woman alone, determined to keep her family farm and await the return of her son from the war.
The Bell family is one family who shows their strength and courage to the reader that hits on all cylinders when it comes to drama and happiness at the same time. Making their home in West Virginia, Mom (Essie), and Dad (Ezra), receive a letter from the Union Army stating that their son Paddy is missing and presumed dead. A veil of sadness falls but there is one lone spirit who still believes there's no way the tragedy has occurred. Being the faithful and loving mother, Essie refuses to accept the fact that her son is dead, and waits patiently for his return with the faithful family dog, Ruf, at her side.
Essie and Ezra have fashioned a beautiful farm in the hills of West Virginia that serves as a true spiritual salvation for Essie as she waits for good news to be delivered about her son. As if going into her own safe realm, Essie remains intent on growing all sorts of wonderful food, raising the chickens, and baking pies to sell in the nearest town. Sadly, Ezra passes away and Essie's ever-faithful dog grows old and feeble, showing his age as he tries to sit beside his mistress until she finds some sort of happiness.
The townspeople, especially Charlie Atwood, owner of the General Store, come to Essie trying everything they can to make her sell the stunning farm and move to town. As always, Essie remains strong - continuing to believe her son will return as she spends her time with her beloved canine companion. There are worries for Essie, of course, including the fact that soon a long, hard winter will come upon her and she may not have the strength to keep the farm running. But as new people start arriving at Essie's farm, including friends and relatives, she finds out that there is a niche for her in life. She is still a much-needed part of the community and the hope that Paddy is out there somewhere trying to get home remains at the forefront of her mind.
Although The Man Inside the Mountain is set during the Civil War, no battlefields are described in this story; rather, this is a tale of sheer inspiration and enjoyment. Readers will fall in love with the strength and character of Essie, and enjoy the surprises this novel brings. I suspect they will also look forward to more gifts to come from this fantastic author. A beautiful story, great plotting and unforgettable characters are the ingredients that will have readers everywhere rooting for Essie's prayers to come true.
Quill says: A determined woman, unwilling to give up on her lost son, beautiful images and strong writing will keep readers turning pages. This book is a breath of fresh air.
For more information on The Man Inside the Mountain, please visit the author's website at: www.suzannemays.com