Author: Jan Watson
Review by Grace Olson
Set in the rolling hills of Kentucky, this week’s book review is a Historical Fiction novel entitled Tattler’s Branch, written by award winning novelist, Jan Watson.
Taken from Tyndale House Publisher’s website synopsis of Tattler’s Branch:
Lilly Corbett Still has grown to love her life as the small-town doctor of Skip Rock, a tiny coal community in the Kentucky mountains. Though her husband, Tern, is away for a few months at a mining job, Lilly has her hands full with her patients and her younger sister visiting for the summer.
Lilly turns to her good friend and neighbor, Armina, to help keep things in order—until a mysterious chain of events leaves Armina bedridden and an abandoned baby on her doorstep. Lilly works to uncover the truth, unaware of what a mess she’s found herself in until a break-in at her clinic puts her on high alert. As she struggles between what is right and what is safe, Lilly must discover the strength of her resilient country neighbors, her God, and herself.
Tattler’s Branch is the sequel to Skip Rock Shallows, and at first, it was difficult for me to get into the book. The beginning was a bit slow, but after I’d gotten farther into the book, the pace picked up. Watson does, however, do a good job of drawing the reader into her characters’ world with descriptions of settings and true-to-the-area vernacular. Armina was my favorite character in the book. Her abrupt, prickly personality made her an interesting, yet fun person to get to know.
It had been a while since I read Skip Rock Shallows, but I felt like Lilly’s character had altered. Granted, several years have passed in this book’s timeline, and people do change, but I had a hard time putting together the character I knew in Skip Rock Shallows and who she had become in Tattler’s Branch.
As I already mentioned, Tattler’s Branch is the sequel to Skip Rock Shallows. Lilly is now married, but her husband is away for much of the book because of his job investigating cave ins. So this book doesn’t have much in the way of a new love story, at least not as far as the main story thread goes.
The spiritual aspect of Tattler’s Branch was not the book’s most prevalent theme. I found the references to faith near the back of the novel, but there was one quote that I really liked and wanted to share here: “We’re all sinners,” Lilly said. “The ground at the foot of the cross is even.” That line is so accurate, and what struck me was how clearly Watson was able to say it.
Biography from Tyndale House Publisher’s website: Jan Watson won the 2004 Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest for her first novel, Troublesome Creek. Her other awards include being named the best Kentucky author in 2012 by Kentucky Living magazine, a nomination for the Kentucky Literary Award in 2006 and second place in the 2006 Inspirational Readers Choice Contest sponsored by the Faith, Hope, and Love Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Jan has published seven novels. As a registered nurse for 25 years at Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, she incorporates her nursing experience in the hospital’s mother/baby unit into her novels. Jan resides in Kentucky. ~ To learn more about her and the other books she has written, visit her web page: http://www.janwatson.net/
Q & A with the author:
1. What was your inspiration for this book, Tattler’s Branch?
I wrote this book because the people from Skip Rock Shallows had more stories to tell. I was reading my local paper one morning and came upon a story concerning something dramatic that had happened on a creek called Tattler’s. I could see Armina there.
2. Tell me about your main character Lilly Corbett Still. Was this character based on anyone in particular?
No, Lilly Gray Corbett Still is totally a figment of my imagination. Lilly is one smart and courageous young woman. I do love anything medical, so Lilly allowed me to indulge a bit in the medical practice of the time. If I were to live any of my characters’ lives, I would choose Lilly’s. She is so strong and determined. And kind—Lilly is very kind.
3. What lessons or truths will your reader find in the pages of this story?
A central truth in each of my books is that everyone is important and unique. Every person has a story to tell and that story is worth hearing.
4. How do you expect Lilly’s story to resonate with your readers?
I believe my readers will appreciate Lilly’s strength in the face of adversity.
5. As a writer, what did you particularly enjoy about crafting this story?
I especially enjoyed the relationship between Lilly and Armina. Armina is naturally funny and Lilly handles her prickly humor with aplomb. I also liked exploring the character of Shade Harmon. I learned a lot from Shade (including some things I didn’t need to know). The relationship he had with his first wife is especially telling. The way he loved his baby girl touched my heart. Not to give anything away, but there’s a line in the book where Lilly says, “The ground at the foot of the cross is even.” I just love that she said that.
6. What is your hope for this novel? How would you like it to impact readers?
I want my readers to be entertained with wholesome, faith-affirming, thought provoking fiction.
7. What big questions will this novel get your readers thinking about?
I hope this humble story will inspire readers to look beyond a person’s earthly circumstance and ask themselves who that being really is and what lesson God sent them here to teach.
Tattler’s Branch was an entertaining read, but one I had a bit of trouble getting into.
I was given a review copy of Tattler’s Branch from Tyndale House Publishers for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review.
Tattler’s Branch is available for download or paper copy.