About two weeks ago my parents visited Branson, Missouri. We'd been twice before but it's such a wonderful vacation spot they wanted to go again.
One of the many attractions in the area is Shepherd of the Hills made famous because of the story THE SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS by author Harold Bell Wright who spent eight summers living in the Ozarks in the early 1900s.
While the story is fiction, the location and many of the people are real. My parents bought me the book while they were there.
I must admit, I didn't think I was going to like it. I tend not to like the 'older stuff'. Not fast paced enough for me. Sometimes confusing. This wasn't the case.
I really liked it.
While not a 'page turner' the writing is beautiful and the plot of atonement, forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption is beautifully told. I wasn't able to pick out the twists and how it all tied together until I was in the midst of reading it at the end.
The story depicts the lives of mountain folk living in the Ozarks and a mysterious old man, 'The Shepherd of the Hills,' aka Dad Howitt. (Dad was an endearing title back then) The shepherd, an elderly, learned man, escapes the buzzing restlessness of the city to live in the backwoods neighborhood of Mutton Hollow in the Ozark hills.There's your usual trouble maker, and a love story between pretty Samantha Lane and Young Matt.
The writing is beautiful, without being too wordy. In this example the Shepherd talks about a boy (Pete) with a mental handicap, questioning who, in reality, are the ones with the handicap:
"Pete knew a world unseen by us, and we, therefore, fancied ourselves wiser than he. The wind in the pines, the rustle of the leaves, the murmur of the brook, the growl of the thunder, and the voices of the night were all understood and answered by him. The flowers, the trees, the rocks, the hills, the clouds were to him, not lifeless things, but living friends, who laughed and wept with him as he was gay or sorrowful.
"'Poor Pete,' we said. Was he in truth, poorer or richer than we?"
I highly recommend The Shepherd of the Hills, if only for the simplicity of it all. The time it was written, the people it was written about, the untouched location the story takes place. I think we all need to venture there once and a while.