I’m delighted to have Cathy Gohlke on the blog today to talk about her new novel, A Hundred Crickets Singing, and the appeal of Southern fiction!
A HUNDRED CRICKETS SINGING by Cathy Gohlke
GENRE: Inspirational Dual Timeline/Historical Fiction
RELEASE DATE: April 5, 2022
In wars eighty years apart, two young women living on the same Appalachian estate determine to aid soldiers dear to them and fight for justice, no matter the cost.
1944. When a violent storm rips through the Belvidere attic in No Creek, North Carolina, exposing a hidden room and trunk long forgotten, secrets dating back to the Civil War are revealed. Celia Percy, whose family lives and works in the home, suspects the truth could transform the future for her friend Marshall, now fighting overseas, whose ancestors were once enslaved by the Belvidere family. When Marshall’s Army friend, Joe, returns to No Creek with shocking news for Marshall’s family, Celia determines to right a long-standing wrong, whether or not the town is ready for it.
1861. After her mother’s death, Minnie Belvidere works desperately to keep her household running and her family together as North Carolina secedes. Her beloved older brother clings to his Union loyalties, despite grave danger, while her hotheaded younger brother entangles himself and the family’s finances within the Confederacy. As the country and her own home are torn in two, Minnie risks her life and her future in a desperate fight to gain liberty and land for those her parents intended to free, before it’s too late.
With depictions of a small Southern town “reminiscent of writings by Lisa Wingate” (Booklist on Night Bird Calling), Cathy Gohlke delivers a gripping, emotive story about friendship and the enduring promise of justice.
the appeal of southern fiction
by Cathy Gohlke, author of A Hundred Crickets Singing
What immediately transports our minds to comfy chairs, the donning of soft and worn slippers, and the clasping of mugs of hot cider by crackling fires in winter? What conjures the image of a porch replete with deep chair cushions, a creaking swing or hammock, and a tall, cold glass of sweet tea in summer? What feels like coming home?
Southern fiction. There’s nothing quite like honeyed words to whisk us from the everyday stress of life and plunk us in the middle of a uniquely familiar and welcoming environment—one we immediately recognize.
Reading of barefoot boys by fishing ponds calls to something deep within us, as do references to stalwart stalks of tobacco, tantalizing aromas of fried chicken or smoked ham, pungent simmering turnip greens, and high-rise biscuits straight from the oven. The soft lull of a Southern drawl or the nasal twang so familiar in Southern life and dialogue is music to our ears. These ingredients bear us south to our roots—even if we were not raised there, even if we’ve never so much as set foot below the Mason-Dixon Line.
Whether set in the mountains, in the flatlands, or at the seashore, Southern fiction typically wrestles with family, faith, and feuding neighbors—or at least irritating and nosy ones. There are often secrets from the past and present, old scores that require settling and longstanding norms that must be religiously adhered to or overcome with some combination of regret, remorse, and glee.
Modern-day news events find mirrors in the South. Without saying so, authors of Southern novels can create windows into dilemmas of the present and offer solutions by showing the injustice, absurdity, even the tragedy of it all. Readers might shake their heads and say, Well, it’s the South, you know—but in the end they walk away with a story and characters that live and breathe and offer insights to fuel their own wrestling with life today.
That special down-home quality is the reason that names like Pat Conroy, Harper Lee, Charles Frazier, Charles Martin, Lisa Wingate, Fannie Flagg, Thomas Wolfe, William Faulkner, and so many others come easily to mind and roll off the tongue like folks we’ve known forever, folks with names we trust.
In the end, when we finish reading that last page and close the book, there’s a sadness that we’re leaving the characters behind. They’ve become family, whether we particularly liked them or not. We want to know how situations resolved in the book feed into the characters’ futures. We ponder what the story means to us today, right now, in our 21st-century life that looks nothing like that simpler time and place, and we carry that wondering into our world. That’s the sign of a great book. That’s Southern fiction.
Four-time Christy and two-time Carol and INSPY Award–winning author Cathy Gohlke writes novels steeped with inspirational lessons from history. Her stories reveal how people break the chains that bind them and triumph over adversity through faith. When not traveling to historic sites for research, she and her husband, Dan, divide their time between northern Virginia and the Jersey Shore, enjoying time with their grown children and grandchildren.
Tyndale is offering a print copy of A Hundred Crickets Singing by Cathy Gohlke to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read A Hundred Crickets Singing by Cathy Gohlke? Why do you love Southern fiction?