Nothing more was heard from the disgraced woman, but it was a miracle to see how suddenly and humbly John J. Vespie became a deeply devoted lamb of the church. And show his devotion he did when it came time to ante-up for the offering plate each Sunday. Some said he was trying to buy his way back into the good graces of the church, and God, Himself. And I suppose he figured he had a lot of amends-making to do, for he never missed a Sunday’s service thereafter, nor slacked on his enormous tithing. Soon enough, the money seemed to make up for his indiscretions for no one, the preacher included, had any more to say about his “momentary dance with the devil” after the church got its long-awaited and much-prayed-for roof later that year. And Mrs. Vespie’s face got a little less dour looking and a little haughtier looking instead when she finally got the mansion that she’d always dreamed of. And it had nothing to do with the one that was being prepared for her in heaven.
Big Grandma laughed about it and said that that poor old cabin had seen more life in it in the last two years since John and Myra had been sneaking around than it had had in the last twenty when she and my great-grandfather had lived there.
Being seven at the time, though, I wasn’t privy to all the ins and outs of what was going on at Big Grandma’s old place, or in the town, either. And, truthfully, the little I’d heard hadn’t much interested me. But, something that did interest me and that I was well aware of, even at that young age, concerned Big Grandma herself. What she was fascinated me and lured me to her, yet, at the same time, caused me to keep a certain reverent distance from her. For my great-grandmother was the Wart Buyer.
As the 20th century dawns, the world is transformed in dizzying ways. But nestled in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains is a place, and a family, out of time—where one young girl will grow to face the challenges of each generation before her—and discover whether she has the strength to overcome them…
The eldest surviving daughter of Anna Guinn, Rachel rarely ventures far from her home in the Appalachians, aside from an occasional trip into town to trade a penny for a peppermint stick. Sometimes she yearns for more, but as much as she fears her mother’s unstable mind, she is anchored by the strength of her grandmother, Willa. Freed from an abusive marriage, Willa holds the family together through hardship, all the while fulfilling her role as keeper of her neighbors’ carefully guarded secrets—the most painful of which may be her own.
In this isolated, eccentric world where people depend on moonshine to put food on the table, hang talismans to chase away ghosts—and tragedy can strike as suddenly as a coiled copperhead—Rachel wonders what life has in store. Most of all, she worries whether she and her sister have inherited the darkness that lurks inside their mother. Her one respite is the town’s apple orchard, the ally she finds there—and the revelation that she can take her destiny into her own hands, decide what to leave behind—and what is truly worth carrying into the future…
Janie DeVos is a native of Coral Gables, Florida. She attended Florida State University, then worked in the advertising industry for over a decade, including radio, cable television, public relations and advertising firms. Though her career changed over the years, one thing didn’t—her love of writing. She is an award winning children's author. Beneath a Thousand Apple Trees is her adult debut.
Learn more at janiedevos.com.
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