Yellow Mountain by Rhiannon Neeley
Inspired by a true story.
If your husband left to help a friend and didn't return, only to be declared dead a few weeks later, would you have the strength to carry on? Elijah Sawyer disappears in 1922 leaving his wife, Martha, to scratch out a living with their two daughters and a bit of flat land on Yellow Mountain in the hills of Kentucky. Martha's world is shattered, but she is a strong southern woman with children to raise. She must endure. Her strength is tested over and over again, and all the while she doesn't know that Elijah is actually still alive.
So comes the story of love and laughter, sacrifice and struggle as Martha builds a life with her new husband, Nero, only to have it shaken when the man she has always loved and always will—Elijah—returns from the dead eight years after he disappeared from Yellow Mountain.
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Five Angels from Fallen Angel Reviews, October 31, 2008
"...Rhiannon Neeley's tale swings from deep abiding love to tragedy; many pages brought tears to my eyes. It is a book that will touch your soul. Martha Sawyer was a simple hard working mountain woman; I truly had to admire how much she stoically endured for her children and her love. Her pleasures were everyday moments; snapshots of happy times with her children and Lige. Rhiannon Neeley's attention to detail; a scent, a laugh and warm cup of coffee, bring these moments alive. Insight into Martha and Lige's emotions; the highs and lows, had this reader hooked right form the outset. Lige lived for Martha and his girls. Their life together was not long enough before he had to leave. Without Martha, Lige lost a part of himself and he let it go on for too many years.
This tale of simple mountain folk will be fondly remembered by this reader. I am absolutely convinced that Rhiannon Neeley has given readers something quite special in sharing a part of her family's' past. Her words are sincere and honest; at the conclusion I was moved to tears. Do not miss Yellow Mountain."
Reviewed by: Naomi for Fallen Angel Reviews
The Romance Studio
I did not read YELLOW MOUNTAIN in one sitting. The story was far too intense for that. Twice I had to turn off my book reader and ruminate for awhile to reabsorb the emotions that were getting away from me. Once my husband turned to me in alarm, concerned by my sobbing. I had to explain there was nothing wrong, but the story was so well written, so real, that some parts left me feeling positively raw.
But it isn't all heartache and sadness, not by a long shot. The triumphs and celebrations are made all the more sweet by the glaring contrasts in one very amazing woman's life. Martha Sawyer was an amazing woman and YELLOW MOUNTAIN is, more than anything, the story of her life. Well, the first half of her life, anyway. The thought struck me at the end of the book, that after all that she'd done, all she'd survived, all she'd touched and changed, she was still probably not quite thirty yet.
Martha was a woman who clung to her convictions even when they were all she had to cling to. She loved unconditionally and without reservation. There was no sacrifice too large for her children's welfare. She never saw it as sacrifice, she just saw what had to be done and did it. Even when the times and living conditions demanded a lot from a person just to survive, Martha paid far more dues than any one person should ever have to pay. But she did survive it and she did it with grace for the sake of her children.
It really spoke to me when Martha's daughter Gracie told her she hoped that when she had to be, she could be half as strong as her mother. Martha's response was that she hoped she'd never have to be.
Martha was a young wife, married only a couple of years to the man of her dreams, and the mother of two beautiful little girls, when her husband left one afternoon to help a neighbor pull some stumps and didn't return. She might have fallen apart with worry except that now she had to provide for the girls and work the farm, as well as keep up with her already full day of chores, all alone. She took in mending from the townsfolk to supplement her income because Elijah had left her with a bank mortgage that had to be paid in cash money.
I don't want to spoil any of this awesome story by giving away anymore of the plot, except to say that eight years later, Elijah Sawyer returned from the dead.
Martha was such an inspiring role model to have in one's ancestry. Knowing that you were descended from such stock must be almost as intimidating as it is inspiring. Perhaps Ms. Neeley will tell us. Her mother is Martha's youngest daughter, Stella May Neeley. Martha is her grandmother. After reading YELLOW MOUNTAIN, I understand why Ms. Neeley would say in the book's forward that this book is a work of her heart. YELLOW MOUNTAIN will touch your heart too.