It is the time of year to return to this story, which relates to a Christmas classic I love to read. This is a re-read of a classic novel, whose 1963 film adaptation also works well for the curious reader. This piece preceded the famous television show The Waltons. Please enjoy the review I originally posted during my first read-through of this book:
Earl Hamner Jr. invites readers to take a trip back to the 1930s and explore the Blue Ridge Mountains in rural Virginia, where the Spencers have lived for generations. Clay and Olivia are trying to raise a family the best they can, helped by the eldest, Clay-Boy, and the strong-willed community. As the story progresses, the narrative takes the reader through some of the adventures undertaken by members of the family, but there are two story arcs that weave their way throughout: Clay’s trying to build a house for his family with his own two hands, and Clay-Boy’s attempt to get accepted to college. While one dream hinges on the demise of the other, the Spencers come together through thick and thin, putting the larger family before their own interests. A great story for those who loved the Waltons, or anyone who seeks to see the power of working together, treating family as a team and not a collection of rivals.
I am familiar with Hamner Jr.’s other Walton-based story, The Homecoming, and when given the chance to read this book, I did not hesitate. Those familiar with The Homecoming, in its book or television movie form, will see many of the stories that arise from that tale are told in greater detail herein. Hamner Jr. seeks not only to tell the story of the Spencers, but also to show how poverty need not impede a family’s ability to live a happy life, even in the Depression. Readers who can divorce themselves from the rigours of fast-paced thrillers or superficial pieces of fiction will enjoy this tale that warms the heart and brings a tear to the eye at the same time.
Kudos, Mr. Hamner Jr. for your wonderful tale. It warms my heart to read this each Christmas season!
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons