BEGINS MARCH 21 - end of month

BOOK BLURB: Orphaned in the cholera epidemic of 1833, Adria Starr was cared for by a slave named Louis, a man who stayed in Springfield, Kentucky, when anyone with means had fled. A man who passed up the opportunity to escape his bondage and instead tended to the sick and buried the dead. A man who, twelve years later, is being sold by his owners despite his heroic actions.

Now nineteen, Adria has never forgotten what Louis did for her. She's determined to find a way to buy Louis's freedom. But in 1840s Kentucky, she'll face an uphill battle. Based partly on a true story, Ann H. Gabhart's latest historical novel is a tour de force. The vividly rendered town of Springfield and its citizens immerse readers in a story of courage, betrayal, and honor that will stick with them long after they turn the last page.

About Ann H. Gabhart

Ann H. Gabhart caught the writing bug at the age of ten and has been writing ever since. An award winning author, she's published many books for both adults and young adults. Her books cover several genres from historical to small town family stories to cozy mysteries under the name A.H. Gabhart. Her ideas are sparked by events in Kentucky history and by experiences in her own family. Her first Shaker novel, The Outsider, was a finalist for the ECPA Christian Fiction Book of the Year. Love Comes Home won the Selah Book of the Year award, and These Healing Hills was the Faith, Hope & Love Readers' Choice Women's Fiction Book of the Year. 

Ann lives on a Kentucky farm not far from where she was born. She and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren. Ann enjoys hiking on her farm with her grandkids and her dog, Frankie. See more about her books at 
1. What character in this book would you like most as a friend, and why? 
2. What challenge did the main character face? How did they over come or deal with the challenge?
3. What words would you use to describe the main character in this book? Why?
4. What do you admire most about the characters in this book? Why?
5. Where there any characters in this book that you didn't like? why?
6. What lesson, if any, did you learn from reading this book? How has that lesson affected your life?
7. If you could ask the author one question about this book, what would it be?
8. What specific themes did the author emphasize through out the novel? What do you think while getting to know the characters? Did they emphasize something?
9. What was your FAVORITE Scene? Why did you love it?
10. What was unique about the setting of this story? How did it enhance or take away from the story?
11.The story took place during the cholera epidemic of the 1800's when an entire towns population ran for the hills, very few were left to deal with the after math of the disease.
Which leads into one of Ann's discussion questions states, "With our advanced medicines and health knowledge, do you think it's hard for us to completely understand the fear people might have felt when they heard cholera had broken out in their area?
12. Another discussion question from the author, "Adria had a close relationship with Aunt Matilda. What did you like best about Matilda? How would you describe her relationship with Adria?"
13. A discussion question from the author, "Were you disappointed that Adria made the choices she made at the end of the book or do you feel she did the best thing for her future?"
14. What was the feeling you got when you read the last page and closed the book? Why were you feeling that way?
15. Did you like how the story ended? If not, how would you have changed the ending? Why, make the change?

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Replies to This Discussion

1. What character in this book would you like most as a friend, and why? 
Louis and Matilda and Adria.
I was inspired by Louis's faith. 
Matilda poured out love to all especially Adria.
Adris was a brave and courageous young lady. I loved her first encounter with Louis. She says on page 14, "Are you an Angel? Adris had never thought about angels having black skin and smelling sweaty. She always throught about them floating around with wings and white robes, and could be that was all wrong." Grin!
2. What challenge did the main character face? How did they over come or deal with the challenge?
I think that many characters in this story had challenges with the whole town either run away and/or dead.  We discussed this in my face to face group Monday night. They felt that the author did a great job showing the situation through a few peoples point of view. We got to know Louis, Matilda, and Ruth pretty good. But how we got to know them was through their interaction with Andris. Well done.
We all agreed we could not imagine everyone you know passing away - like in Adris's case. One minute you don't feel good the next you are dead. Her whole family was laying beside her dead. The courage of Louis to go into that house with everyone laying around and then burying everyone. I think the count was 57 graves some with families buried in one place like Adris.
What inspired us most was that LOUIS was a REAL person! It was astounding. The other thing was that the whole town really did purchase his freedom. WOW! more on that later. Grin!
This was a powerful - heart-felt story with a few twists and surprise I enjoyed. Looking forward to hearing what you had to say. More fun questions ahead.
The author heard we were reading and discussing her book. She might stop in. Exciting!

If I could pluck any character from this book for a friend it would be two, Aunt Tilda for her stories,unconditional love, and guidance, and Louis for his belief that God is guiding our path in all matters.  Louis taught me how to truly pray believin’ in this story and to find out in the Author’s note that he was a real live human being and his story really happened made me want to jump up and down with joy.  I’m upset that he had to experience live as a slave but his faith in God to lead him rewarded him in the end.  Everyone’s lives he touched were made better. I for one think he was a true angel.

Adria had many challenges as a child, young adult, and as a woman.  Thanks to Aunt Tilda and Louis they guided her to Ruth.  Between the three of them they looked out for her and helped her turn into a strong independent woman able to make good decisions in life each in their own way.  Ann I would love to read a sequel to this story as Adria continues her journey in Boston and of course more about Ruth and her new family. Hint, hint.

I too was awed by Louis’s story and what he did for so many never thinking about himself showed his true character, and was so relieved when the townspeople pulled together to help him when he needed it. 

I have an idea for a sequel, Adriann, but so far haven't convinced my publishing company that it's a book enough readers want to read. But maybe someday. The real life story at the center of my fictional story was such an inspiring thing to happen at that time in history for a little town like Springfield. 

My Monday night group asked if there would be a sequel. With Adria going away and Ruth starting a new family. Louis being a freed man. There were many places to go.

One of the ladies in my Monday night group googled LOUIS and like you had mentioned in your book he was a real person. What my book club member found out was that this happened AGAIN to this small town and once again Louis stepped up to the plate. I couldn't even imagine that happening twice in one persons life time.

Fun to know that information about Matilda.

True. I didn't include the information about the other cholera epidemic in 1854 since it was after the time of my story. That time Louis is supposed to have buried 33 victims of cholera. He had to be a strong man. And young in 1833 since he died in 1861 at age 55.   

In 2004 the town of Springfield recognized his heroic deeds during the Black Heritage Week. That may be when they erected a small monument to Louis in the graveyard where he buried the cholera victims.

What about taking a poll of your readers for a sequel and presenting the results which I am sure would be in favor to your publisher?

I too googled Louis after reading this beautiful story the first time and was so glad to read that he was honored.

The real life actions of Louis inspired me to fashion this story around him. I had to believe he had to be a man of faith in order to do what he did. Matilda was also a real life character, but I couldn't find anything historical about her. So she is a complete product of my imagination. But I really liked the character she became. I appreciate the Adria quote you share about the angels she imagined. 

Cholera was a dreadful disease that killed thousands of people all across the nation and the world in those early 1800 years. It's something that we might find hard to imagine in these days when we sometimes expect doctors to be able to cure almost everything.

Those are some good questions, Nora, and I'm thrilled that you picked my book for the book club. Can't wait to read everyone's comments. I know they'll be kind. :)

I loved this book.  It has been one of my all time favorites.

It's one of my favorites too! I LOVE learning about history this way through memorable characters I instantly cared about. Grin! 

Thank you, Virginia and Nora. I always have a grin too when I hear about someone taking my characters to their hearts.


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Created by Phred St Laurent May 27, 2010 at 11:35pm. Last updated by Phred St Laurent May 31, 2010.

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