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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Daughters of Green Mountain Gap by Teri M Brown is a moving, multi-generational story of three rural North Carolina women at the end of the nineteenth century. Maggie McCoury is a healing woman, known as a Granny Woman, and is much sought after around Green Mountain Gap for her knowledge of plants and medicinal herbs. She has garnered much of her healing knowledge by listening to and learning from the local Cherokee medicine man. Although the God-fearing townsfolk dislike and distrust the Cherokee, they do appreciate Maggie’s ability to cure ailments. Maggie’s daughter Carrie Ann, though, is less enamored with her mother’s abilities and secretly blames her mother for being unable to save her father when he was sick. She has studied to be a nurse and is determined to bring science and “real” medicine to Green Mountain Gap. Carrie Ann’s daughter Josie Mae, however, believes in her grandmother’s power and wants to be just like her. The three women have to negotiate their fragile relationships and the constant reality of sickness and death from unknown and dangerous contagions in this era between science and faith.
Daughters of Green Mountain Gap is a fantastic and illuminating read of a seminal period of history as science and faith intersected and often clashed. Author Teri M Brown has created three utterly engaging characters; strong, independent, and fiercely loyal women who are not afraid to speak their minds and stick to their convictions. I particularly enjoyed the constant emotional tension between Maggie and Carrie Ann as well as that between Carrie Ann and Josie Mae. I appreciated the irony that whilst the people of Green Mountain Gap were happy to embrace the cures and medicine Maggie provided, they still had an intense fear and distrust of the Cherokee people from whom she had learned much of her trade. I also liked that the doctor, Daniel, was so open to Maggie’s healing and could see the gift that she had, whereas her daughter was too blinded by her anger and belief in modernity to see what was glaringly obvious to others. The concept of balance resonated with me when they discussed the fact that both modern medicines and some herbal remedies had two sides to them, both a negative (poisonous side) and a positive (healing side). Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this wonderful story is the importance of belief and attitude in the healing process, not only for the patient but for those who administer the medicine and the patient’s loved ones. This is a wonderful read that I thoroughly enjoyed.