Previously published in 1981
"Death's just God's way of showin' his believers what it's like to be forever achin' with happiness."
In 1939, it was not unusual for a family living in the Nahella Valley in the Appalachian Mountains to be isolated. Familes frequently spent days or weeks without seeing another person outside of their immediate household. Life was different there and then. If someone needs a temporary home when just passing through, it was not unusual to have shelter for the night in a family's barn.
For the drifter, Michael O'Rear this is an opportunity. With his Irish accent and being a previous performer, he also possesses the skills to charm and for people to trust him.
Unfortunately a young couple first met Michael. They pay the price of being hospitable to him. However, they also tell about a neighboring farm where there are just three women: a mother, daughter, and the mother's sister. The father, Eli, just disappeared. The local talk is that Eli stole some money and hid it before he left. To Michael, this seems like a wish come true.
He can read people and has an understanding about their acceptance of him as a stranger.
Michael visits this farm with the legendary hidden treasure of stolen money. Certainly a man with his talents can charm these lonely women into revealing the treasure.
Quickly Michael learns about an elderly woman who has the power of healing in her hands. Even though the community has a local doctor, he even has been astonished about Mama Ada's skills. Mama Ada seems to sense something in Michael but doesn't say a word.
As Michael builds a relationship with Rachel, Sarah, and Dora, they notice that he seems similar to Eli. So Michael feels it is safe for others to believe that he is Eli's distant relative from Ireland.
Terry Kay is best known for his novel To Dance with the White Dog which was made into an award winning Hallmark Hall of Fame production. He has written numerous novels set in the South of life during the depressed times of the 1930s.
After Eli is a unique novel in that the reader has insight that is not immediately revealed to the characters giving depth to each protagonist and trepidation to the antagonist.
In all of Terry Kay's writings all his characters are loved by the author whether good or bad. His stories are reminiscent of a skilled storyteller weaving an enticing tale into a captivating web.