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Sweet Hollow


120 pages / 5.50 x 8.50 inches / no illustrations


  Paperback / 9780807111338 / January 1984

Sweet Hollow tells of life in the hills of Appalachia some fifty years ago, a primal world of craggy hills and tangled forests where good and evil, charity and malice exist in their purest forms. If the pleasures of men, women, and children in these seven stories are simple, the ills and misfortunes that beset them are equally forthright and undiluted. There is beauty in the ridges and ponds, and grace in the flights of birds overhead; but nature also bestows lessons of cruelty and can, without warning, turn tormentor. There is magic and holiness in these hills, but there is also witchcraft and the hoofprint of the devil.

Lou Crabtree portrays this world in all its rugged complexity, writing of the games of its children and the struggles of its adults, the wiles of its predators and the contentment of its livestock. In "Little Jesus" she tells of the roamings of a group of children and of the one fatherless boy among them who is the innocent victim of their jokes and scourgings. "Wild John" is the story of a hellfire preacher's attempts to understand the actions of his vengeful, seemingly hellbent son. "Holy Spirit" tells of the life of Old Rellar, a woman who, cruelly mistreated by her husband, is left to expend her gift of pure, selfless love on the buried bodies of her thirteen miscarriages and on the motherless calf and piglet that she nurses back to health. And "Homer-Snake" describes the affection of a solitary woman named Old Marth for a particularly cunning blacksnake who lives in the corner of her stone chimney.

The world of Sweet Hollow is a harsh one. But it is a world where, at times, nature and humanity can be glimpsed in perfect balance. There are places such as "The Jake Pond," where life follows its cycle of seasons undisturbed. There are moments like those in "The Miracle in Sweet Hollow," when wonders occur and the earth and the heavens are suddenly in harmony. 

Lou V. Crabtree was born, and has spent most of her life, in the hills of Appalachia, where she was worked as a farmer and an elementary and secondary school teacher. Her stories have appeared inLaurel Review and Shenandoah.

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