Eden Hill by Bill Higgs
Reviewed by: Pam Graber
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication Date: July 1, 2016
Bill Higgs is a master of the “zinger”. Sometimes he zings you in the funny bone and sometimes he zings you in the heartstrings but always his characters bring the 1960’s time period to life. As a child born in 1960, this was a walk down memory lane for me from the Lux dish soap to Oxydol detergent to the Sinclair dinosaur at the gas pump.
Eden Hill, Kentucky hasn’t changed much since service station owner Virgil T. Osgood was a boy. It’s kind of a “one-horse town” with one grocery store, one beauty shop (the Glamour Nook where the owner learned to ‘do hair’ through a correspondence course), a barber shop that’s open one night a week – after the barber gets done being the mechanic at Osgood’s, and three churches. It’s as common to see a tractor at the gas pump as it is to see a car and Virgil kind of likes being the only game in town. When the property across the street is sold and rumors begin to fly about a bright, shiny, new service station going in, Virgil and his wife Mavine get concerned. Is Eden Hill big enough to support two service stations? God calls them to love their neighbor but their neighbor’s very presence is the biggest problem they see.
Cornelius Alexander is staking everything on the success of his new Zipco station. His brand new wife is expecting their first child and is used to the finer things in life. Following the company’s manual to a T he’s sure that success is right around the corner. If only the weather would cooperate so that building could begin! As their debt piles up and the food in their refrigerator runs low, Neil’s confidence takes a huge hit. It doesn’t help that his wife, JoAnn, has lost faith in him, too. Between her tears and his fears their marriage is also taking a hit. Can they turn things around once the station is finally up and running?
Rev. Eugene Caudill has been the pastor of First Evangelical Baptist Church of Eden Hill for some time. Can he stomp out the fires of unrest among his parishioners and keep the town from taking sides? Can he show that offering grace to one another is the highest form of following Christ?
I loved this story. It was like reading an Andy Griffith episode or listening to Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon stories. The names were very 1960s: Virgil T. and Mavine Osgood and their son, Vee, Jr.; LulaMae and Arlie Prewitt and their son Frank; Welby and Alma; Grover and AnnaBelle Stacy. Everyone is Mr. or Mrs. or Miss and courtesy is one constant in the community. Since this is set in the 60s there is some unrest in the town’s population between the white and the colored folks but all in all they live pretty peaceably. One of the things that consistently cracked me up was Mavine’s “creativity” in the kitchen. Virgil ate whatever she cooked but sometimes the descriptions and his reactions are absolutely priceless! The one that got me was this one:
“It’s a new recipe I found on the back of a cornstarch box.”
“Looks interesting. What’s in it?”
“Cauliflower, rutabagas, eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini – plus, of course, the cornstarch to thicken it up. The box said it won first prize at a county fair somewhere in Arkansas last year.”
“What’s the white stuff on top?” Gladys asked.
“Coconut and whipped cream. The box said you could serve it as a dessert, too.”
Personally, I’d rather eat the cornstarch box!
Eden Hill was so much fun to read and the story will stick with you long after you finish the book. I highly recommend it, especially to those who, like me, grew up in the sixties or raised your kids during that time period. It is a hoot!
Rated G: Absolutely no worries here!
Reviewer’s copy was provided by the Publisher. Thank you!