Monday, September 18, 2017

THESE HEALING HILLS - Ann H Gabhart - One Free Book

Bio: Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels—The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted—as well as Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, Love Comes Home, Words Spoken True, and The Heart of Hollyhill series. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Learn more at .

About the Book: Packed with history, These Healing Hills by bestselling author Ann H. Gabhart introduces readers to the fascinating and difficult life of frontier nursing.

When the soldier Francine Howard planned to marry after WWII writes to tell her he is in love with a woman in England, Francine is devastated and in need of a change. She seeks a fresh start in the Appalachian Mountains, training to be a nurse midwife for the Frontier Nursing Services.

It is in these mountains that Francine crosses paths with Ben Locke, a soldier still very much suffering from the horrors of war. With his future shrouded in as much mist as his beloved mountains, he’s at a loss when it comes to envisioning what’s next for his life.

While Francine and Ben find they are from completely different worlds and possess very different values, they both learn that things don’t always go the way we plan. Ann H. Gabhart invites readers to witness the healing power of love and step forward to tantalizing new possibilities.

Welcome, Ann. Tell us a little about These Healing Hills.
Francine Howard’s life is turned upside down when the soldier she planned to marry after World War II writes to say he’s fallen in love with a woman in England. She needs a new direction. Already a nurse, she jumps at the chance to train as a midwife in the Frontier Nursing Service in the Appalachian Mountains. The recruiter promised Francine her own horse and dog along with adventure and the chance to serve people in need of health care. Life in the mountains is harder than Francine ever imagined, but at the same time the mountain views buoy her spirit, and the mountain people touch her heart.  

Ben Locke has spent many years in the army longing to once more breathe the mountain air of his home. At the same time, he knows a man has few opportunities in the mountains other than subsistence farming or coal mining. While neither appeals to him, he still wants to feel the mountains beneath his feet again. And then he meets Francine, someone from a completely different background, and things get even more complicated for him.

Ben and Francine must both find healing in the mountains as they move toward the future.

Why did you decide to write about the Frontier Nursing Service?
While poking about for a new idea for a story, I happened upon a book about Mary Breckinridge, the founder of the Frontier Nursing Service. She was a woman with a vision. After losing her two children at young ages, she wanted to make a difference in the health of mothers and children. So after much training and research on the best place for her health initiative, she established the Frontier Nursing Service in the Kentucky Appalachian Mountains where very little medical care was available in 1925. At first, all the midwives were from England due to no midwife schools in America, but when WW II broke out in Europe, the English midwives felt compelled to return home to help with the war effort. So Breckinridge started her own Frontier Nursing School in the mountain town of Hyden, Kentucky, to train new midwives. She had always actively sought contributions to fund the Frontier Nursing Service, but now she and others also began recruiting applicants to the school. The more I read about the women, who came to the program from easier lifestyles but were enchanted by the mountains, the more I wanted to let my character be one of these women. And then I liked getting to know the mountain people through my research. Great history, mountain settings, and strong characters all made a great jumping off place for me to start writing this story.

How did you so vividly capture the Appalachian area? Did you visit?
I’m a lifelong Kentuckian and while I don’t live in the Appalachian area, I’m very familiar with that part of Kentucky. I have often visited the state parks in the mountains and have read many stories set in Appalachia. I did visit Wendover, Mary Breckinridge’s home in the mountains that was designated a National Historical Landmark in 1991. It’s a bed and breakfast now where people can visit and learn more about the history of the Frontier Nursing Service and the beauty of the mountains. The Frontier Nursing School is still actively training students in nearby Hyden, Kentucky. A book by James Still, The Wolfpen Notebooks, that I bought at a book fair many years ago was very useful in helping me capture a little of the mountain speak. It also helps that I grew up on a farm, and although it wasn’t in the mountains, farm folks everywhere have some similar ways and a respect and love for the land.

What was the most interesting thing you learned while doing research for this book?
The firsthand experiences of the nurse/midwives as they treated their patients were eye-opening for me. I admired their dedication in fording flooded rivers and riding horses along icy trails and through snowstorms—or whatever obstacles nature threw at them—in order to reach the homes of their patients. I also liked the family feel of the Nursing Service and how the nurses respected the mountain people in spite of their different ways. Then it was inspiring to think about the difference one determined woman with a vision made in the lives of so many. From the FNS beginnings in 1925 to 1975, the FNS nurse/midwives recorded delivering 17,053 babies with only 11 maternal deaths. That is an amazing statistic in an area that Mrs. Breckinridge chose for her service because of the high childbirth mortality rates.  

Do you relate to Francine in any way?
I’m certainly no nurse. I do love a mountain vista, and Francine fell in love with the mountains too. I never think I base my characters on me in any way. My characters come to my stories as separate people with stories to share. That said, I’m sure my personality or feelings do sneak into my characters from time to time. Oh, and with Francine, there is how she loves her dog, Sarge. I’ve loved dogs ever since I begged my parents to let me have a dog when I was eight or nine.

What lesson(s) do you hope readers will take away from reading your book?
I don’t set out to write a story full of lessons. I write to share stories with readers. If they are introduced to interesting history or fascinating places or perhaps new ways to think or feel, that’s a bonus. I hope following along the story trail with my characters will encourage them in their own walks through life. Perhaps in this story, These Healing Hills, a reader might understand how the Lord continues to work in our lives even when things aren’t going the way we think they should. As Francine’s grandmother tells her, where one door closes another opens. Or if not a door, a window somewhere. Sometimes blessings await us on the far side of disappointments. And then I want readers to feel that rhythm of nature Granny Em tries to get Francine to notice in the mountains.

In what way would you say your faith is worked into the book?
My faith is an integral part of my life and my worldview. Not that I don’t stumble at times and have questions. Some of my characters are that way too with a sure belief even when they are challenged by life happenings. Other characters are exploring what they believe and either finding faith or strengthening their wavering faith. We are all on different life paths. I feel blessed when I’m writing and a bit of a Bible verse or a Bible story comes to mind that perfectly fits my character’s situation. I try not to be preachy in my stories, but I do like weaving faith threads through the story in a way that seems a natural part of the characters’ lives.

What are you working on next?
Right now I am working on another historical novel based on a true story about the 1833 cholera epidemic in Springfield, Kentucky. At that time, most people thought cholera was caused by bad air, and so when an epidemic broke out those who had the resources to do so would desert the area. George Sansbury, a hotel owner, was one of the citizens anxious to leave town when the first cholera death was reported in Springfield. He gave his slave, Louis, the keys to the hotel and left him in charge. Louis, who was unaffected by cholera, buried the fifty-five victims of the disease and also took care of some who were sick. Move forward to 1854 when George Sansbury died and his property, including his slaves, was to be sold. The people of Springfield raised money to buy Louis Sansbury’s freedom and set him up in a blacksmith shop.

With that true seed of an idea, my story is the fictional account of how that might have happened. When she was seven, Adria Starr lost her family to cholera, but she has never forgotten how Louis helped her and found her a home with the local schoolteacher, Ruth Harmon, whose husband died from cholera. Now these many years later, Adria must make a decision about her future. Will she marry her childhood sweetheart and stay in Springfield or find adventure and purpose in other places? Ruth has never remarried but when a new preacher, Will Robertson, comes to their church, she feels new stirrings of love. Will lost his wife to childbirth fever and is going through a spiritual crisis even as he continues to lead the church and tries to take care of his young daughter. Their campaign to free Louis changes all their lives. 

How can readers connect with you?
Readers can contact me or find out more about my books and about me by visiting That’s also where to find links to my blogs, One Writer’s Journal and the Heart of Hollyhill blog. Interested readers can sign up for my newsletters at my website too. Every newsletter has a giveaway chance, and I also do frequent book giveaways on my blog. I enjoy interacting with readers on my Facebook page,, where I do weekly posts like the popular “Sunday morning coming down,” Shaker Wednesday with tidbits of Shaker history and photos, and the fun Friday smiles. I’m on Twitter @AnnHGabhart. I have book research boards and more at Pinterest, user name AnnHGabhart. So feel free to drop by any of those places and see what’s going on.

Thank you, Ann, for sharing this new book with my readers and me. I know they’ll want to read it as much as I do.

Readers, here are links to the book.
These Healing Hills -
These Healing Hills -
These Healing Hills - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Google+, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link:


Unknown said...

I have enjoyed Ann's Shaker books and would love to read this book. What a beautiful cover it has too.

Deanne in PA

Elly said...

I've seen good things about this book and am looking forward to reading it!
Elly -Indiana-

Vivian Furbay said...

These Healing Hills sounds like a good example of how God can heal the pain in people's lives. Would enjoy winning a copy of this book.

Cindy W. said...

The Healing Hands looks and sounds wonderful. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

Cindy W.
from Indiana

R Merr said...

I have always enjoyed Gabharts books. This one sounds wonderful!

Rachael M
From DownEast Maine

kim hansen said...

Enjoy Ann's books. north platte nebraska.

rubynreba said...

Always love Word War II related books!
Beth from IA

Paula Shreckhise said...

Don't enter me as I have read this book! It's a very heartfelt story. I recommend it highly! Fantastic writer: Ann Gabhart!

Connie Porter Saunders said...

Hi Ann. I am excited to read These Healing Hills and your new WIP sounds fascinating. Thanks for being here with Lena today and for giving one of us a chance to win your book.
Connie from KY

Anonymous said...

love Ann's books! Shelia from Mississippi

Winnie said...

I've heard great things about this book. It sounds so fascinating. I'd love the chance to win a copy.
Winnie T from Utah

Abigail Mitchell said...

Looks good. Enter me.
Abigail in VA

Brenda Arrington said...

Love Ann's books and have never been disappointed. I look forward to reading this one. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.
Brenda in VA

Tammie Edington Shaw said...

Sounds like a very interesting read. Tammie from Illinois.

Ann H Gabhart said...

What fun to hear from all these different states.We're hopping all across the USA, and even one right here from my home state of KY. Hi, Connie. Thanks for thinking the new WP sounds like ones that you'll like to read.

Paula, I appreciate your thumbs up about the story. It's so fun to hear that someone liked your characters and your story.

Deanne, R Merr, Kim, Sheila & Brenda, thanks so much for reading my books and I hope when you have a chance to read These Healing Hills that you'll like it too and be like Brenda who hasn't been disappointed with one of my stories yet. I like hearing that, for sure.

Winnie, I'm glad you've heard good things about the story. It has been getting nice reader response. That has me smiling.

Elly, Cindy, Abigail & Tammie - So glad you think the story sounds good and I too love the cover - especially the dog on the cover since I'm such a dog lover too.

Ruby & Reba - This story does have some WW II scenes since my hero is a soldier who's anxious to get his feet back on his mountain farm.

Vivian, you forgot to put your state or perhaps I just overlooked it. But an underlying theme in the story echoed by the title is the healing that can come through faith.

Virginia said...

Texas...and I love Ann and her books!!!! would love to win this book but will definitely be reading it regardless...

Lisa Bragg said...

I love all of Anns books.I am from Kentucky, like Ann, and had the pleasure of meeting her this Summer.I will always appreciate and treasure that.

VanG said...

I have enjoyed Ann's books in the past and would love to win a copy of this one. Thanks for the opportunity! 😊
Vangie in NC

VanG said...

I have enjoyed Ann's books in the past and would love to win a copy of this one. Thanks for the opportunity! 😊This sounds like a great story and the cover is beautiful.
Vangie in NC

Wendy Newcomb said...

I really enjoy Ann's books and I'm looking forward to reading this one. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

Wendy in South Sioux City, NE

wfnren at aol dot com

Karen G. said...

I am really looking forward to reading this book. It sounds so interesting. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.

Karen G. from Eastern Upstate NY

Connie Lee said...

I'm from eastern North Carolina. I grew up in the foot hills of the Great Smoky Mountains in western N.C. and have a special place in my heart for the hills. I think I would really enjoy reading Ann's book. Thanks for the giveaway! lclee59(at)centurylink(dot)net

Pam K. said...

I've read and enjoyed quite a few of Ann's books so I want to read These Healing Hills. I hadn't heard of the Frontier Nursing Service. The book she's currently working on sounds really good as well. Thanks for the interview and book giveaway.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the chance to win.
Karen S

Trixi said...

This one is already on my must-read list!! Thank you for the chance to win a copy :-)

Trixi in OR

Unknown said...

Ann, don't fool yourself. You Are Beautiful!
I live in Colorado and LOVE it here!!!
Thank you for this chance to win your book. Thank you~

Ann H Gabhart said...

Great to hear from some more states. Love hearing from TX and OR and well, all those states. Thank you all for reading the interview and joining in the fun.

Virginia, I appreciate you saying you'll read my new book, These Healing Hills, win or lose. Thank you.

Lisa, hello to you. It was fun meeting you last summer. Hope all is still well for you. Loved getting to meet your daughter and granddaughter too.

Van G - glad you liked the cover. I think it's great and really represents the story well. Of course, I love the dog on the cover. That was a late addition, but it made us all happy when Sarge showed up on the cover. Thank you for reading my books. Hope you'll enjoy this one too when you get a chance to read it.

Wendy & Pam K, thanks for reading my books and I'm glad you've enjoyed some of my stories. Pam, I'm glad you think the book to come, River of Redemption sounds like an interesting read too.

Karen G, sounding interesting is a good thing when you're thinking about picking up a new book to read.

Connie Lee, what a great place to grow up with the mountains right there all the time. No wonder you love the hills. Hope you'll love my story too.

Karen S., good luck in the drawing.

Trixi - fun to hear from Oregon. There are a lot of good historical writers out in your neck of the woods. Love being on your "must read" list. Thanks so much.

Judi - you're too sweet. You must have seen my post on my Facebook page. It's always hard to like your own pictures, don't you think? We always want to look just a little better than we actually do. I accidentally hit the reverse on my phone camera today and I almost freaked. I couldn't hit those back arrows fast enough. LOL. Colorado is a beautiful state. I've visited and would love to visit again.

Unknown said...

WOW! This book sounds like a must read!

Caryl K in TEXAS

Anonymous said...

Joan Kurth from Sioux Falls, South Dakota
I have read several of Ann Gabhart's books and enjoyed them all. I also enjoy her on Facebook with her pictures and posts about her life. I would love to win this book. The cover alone is beautiful!

Jane said...

I always greatly enjoy Ann's books and also appreciate history, with my doing more study of WWII as I am working on family genealogy of that period, my parents' generation. I guess before the school opened that prospective midwives here in the states basically just apprenticed with another to learn the skills needed. Very interesting and educational interview. Thanks from TX

Ann H Gabhart said...

Caryl, I appreciate you thinking These Healing Hills is a must read. That makes me smile.

Joan, good to hear from Sioux Falls. I really appreciate my Facebook reading buddies. Thanks for checking out my interview. It is a really nice cover and perfect for the fall season.

Jane, reading a historical novel can enhance what a person knows about an era and make you think about how it was for the people who actually lived in that time period. And you're right about how midwives learned their trade before there were midwifery schools. Some learned from their mothers and it could be some learned out of necessity and just had a feel for how to take care of others. However, schooling about hygiene and better methods plus prenatal care certainly made a difference when the Frontier nurse midwives started taking care of mothers and babies.

Brenda said...

I have been watching this book. I hope to get it soon. Or win it. That would be nice. I'm from MS.

Dianna said...

I'm so excited to hear about your upcoming book - my dad's side of the family is from Springfield, KY! My grandmother and aunts/uncles all still live there. Can't wait to read your book!
Dianna in TN

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me in your awesome giveaway!!
Conway SC.