Monday, August 24, 2015
Night Ride Home, by Vicki Covington
I have mixed emotions about this book. It was fairly interesting to read, but none of the characters really "grabbed" me. What I liked best about it, I think, is that it was set near Birmingham, Alabama, where I lived for 34 years. I recognized many of the places, and the one trip into the city was particularly interesting for that reason.
Set in a coal mining community in Jefferson County, Alabama west of Birmingham, this is a story of the events before and during a mining disaster.
Keller is about to marry Laura, the daughter of the owners of a service station and general store, against her father's wishes. Her mother manages the store, and her father works occasionally at the nearby steel mill, but mostly just hangs around the store drinking, shooting clay pigeons, "skeets," and getting drunker and angrier by the hour. He threatens his future son-in-law with a shotgun, so they secretly delay the wedding by a day. As it turns out, the new wedding date is December 7, 1941. However, the Pearl Harbor attack and World War II are only mentioned in passing. The young man, Keller, is afraid he will have to go to war.
On Christmas Eve that year, a wall falls at the No. 3 mine, trapping Keller's father and his crew. Men work around the clock, trying to dig them out. Meanwhile, Keller's mother fulfills a singing engagement at the Catholic Church in Birmingham, and the pregnant camp prostitute goes into labor. (The identity of the baby's father is the topic of much gossip and speculation in the community.)
Vicki Covington and her husband Dennis Covington live and work in Birmingham, Alabama. Both are authors and have been newspaper columnists.