Reviewed by J. Keith Jones
As I have noted before, I am sprinkling in some classics with my reading. Both famous and lesser known are on the menu. “A Circuit Rider’s Wife” is one that I probably should have read long ago and am frankly wondering why I haven’t. You see, almost every day of my young life I would drive past the childhood home of the author, Corra Harris. Mrs. Harris was indeed a circuit rider’s wife. She began her writing career as a widow after the passing of her husband, an itinerant Methodist minister.
From the writing of this book she would go on to write two dozen books and a column in the Atlanta Constitution. Like Rose Wilder Lane (daughter of Laura Ingles Wilder of Little House fame) Harris would go abroad in World War I to become one of the (some say the) first female war correspondents. In her day, she would become the most well known woman in the state of Georgia. Growing up, I would hear my mother recount that Corra Harris was a big deal as we would pass the granite marker beside the highway denoting the Farm Hill plantation as her childhood home. So I knew she had written this book and that a major Hollywood motion picture had been produced from it (“I’d Climb the Highest Mountain” starring Susan Hayward), that much I knew, but the rest of her story I am just finding out.
“A Circuit Rider’s Wife” is a great little book that is sentimental in some places and biting in others. Mrs. Harris manages to paint a good picture of the hard conditions the circuit riding ministers faced in the North Georgia mountains. While there is debate as to how autobiographical this book is, there is little doubt that protagonist Mary Thompson is someone with whom Corra Harris had much in common and Rev. William Thompson of the book and Lundy Harris also bore many similarities. This is a book much in the tradition of the Little House, Christy, or Mitford books. It is a nice cozy little read and even though it is over one hundred years old (1910) it stands the test of time quite well.