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Janice Holt Giles Books In Order

Publication Order of Piney Ridge Books

The Enduring Hills (1950) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Miss Willie (1951) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Tara's Healing (1951) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Kentuckians Books

The Kentuckians (1953) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Hannah Fowler (1956) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Believers (1957) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Harbin's Ridge (1951) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Hill Man (1954) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Plum Thicket (1954) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Land Beyond the Mountains (1958) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Johnny Osage (1960) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Savannah (1961) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Voyage to Santa Fe (1962) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Run Me a River (1964) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Great Adventure (1966) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Shady Grove (1967) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Six-horse Hitch (1969) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Wellspring (1975) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Forty Acres and No Mule (1952) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Little Better Than Plumb (with Henry Giles) (1963) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Damned Engineers (1970) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Around Our House (with Henry Giles) (1971) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Kinta Years (1973) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Janice Holt Giles was an American writer best known for her series of pseudo historical novels focusing on life, on the American frontier. She was born to Lucy Elizabeth and John Albert Holt on March 28, 1905 in the small town of Altus in Arkansas. Her given name was Janice Meredith Holt. She was the elder of 3 siblings with her sister Mary Katherine Holt Sullivan 2 years younger and John Albert Holt Jr. 4 years her junior. In her early years, she worked several clerical jobs, most of which were in church affiliated organizations and groups in Kentucky and Oklahoma. In 1927, she was married to Otto Moore her first husband, but the marriage would never last as she divorced him in 1939 and moved to Frankfort. She went on to get a job as a secretary with the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky in 1941.

In 1943, Holt met Henry Giles and went on to marry him in 1945, despite him being 11 years younger than she was. The two had met on a bus trip in 1943 and continued to communicate via letters, as Giles was then a military officer in Europe. The couple would get married on the same day that he returned home after the end of the war. The two lovebirds lived in Louisville until 1949, before moving to Adair County in Kentucky. Henry had a very strong attachment to the region in which his ancestors had first settled nearly one and a half centuries earlier. Using logs left over from four pioneer settler cabins, they built their house a few miles from the original pioneer settlement. They lived in the same house up to 1979, when Janice died of cardiac arrest. Her husband, Henry Giles would later die in 1986 and was buried at the Caldwell Chapel Separate Baptist Church cemetery next to his wife.

It was while she was still working for the Presbyterian Seminary in Louisville that she got into writing, when she submitted an entry to fiction contest in 1949. In the twenty-five years that followed, she published twenty-four novels. From the very outset, she had a high predilection for writing the historical frontier novel, as evidenced by the theme of Enduring Hills, her debut novel. Nonetheless, she has also written books in other genres including nonfiction, autobiographical, and modern fiction set in her picturesque Kentucky homeland. Some of her works include the Piney Woods trilogy – novels that emphasize the importance of going back to your roots; The Kentucky trilogy series – an invitation to experience the adventure and dangers of the American frontier; and The Believers series – novels about a family that manages to convert their rural community into following their religious beliefs. The Henry Giles Society and the Janice Holt Giles Society was set up in 1996, charged with the task of preserving the legacy of the Kentuckian couple, restoring their log cabin and transforming it into a museum and tourist destination.

Janice Giles historical fiction novels are a study of the life of the early American settlers in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, among other states. What makes the novels so great is that the narratives as seen through the eyes of the fictitious Cartwright and Fowler families are to a stunning degree historically and geographically accurate. Giles includes historical figures in the novels, including personalities such as Sam Houston, Gen. Matthew Arbuckle, James Wilkinson, William Whitley, James Harrod, Daniel Boone, and Ben Logan among others. Her depiction of the relationship between African Americans, White Settlers, and Native Americans also gives interesting perspectives. The novels can be a good source of information for the reader seeking to understand the early nation building process of the United States from different perspectives.

Enduring Hills, which was published in 1950, was Janice Giles’s first novel. Part autobiographical, the novel introduces the Kentucky mountain country, and offers a glimpse into Giles’s own courtship. The lead characters in the story are Mary and Hod Pierce, a married couple that lives in Piney Ridge. Hod Pierce, similar to Henry Giles has lived in Piney Ridge most of his life eking out an existence from the poor soil, just as his ancestors had done for years. While the love that Hod has for the land and his people is unquestionable, he longs for more. He wants to find out what the outside world holds, longs for more education, and a widening of his horizons. When World War II breaks out, Hod sees it as an opportunity to go see the outside world. It takes a while before he comes back and even when he does, he settles down in a factory job in the city together with his wife Mary. Despite his longing for the outside world, his city-bred wife knows that for Hod, no other place will ever be as homely as Piney Ridge.

Miss Willie, the second novel in the Piney Ridge series is another popular title by Janice Holt Giles. Keeping with her tradition of casting characters and narratives from her own life, some of the chapters in the novel are happenings in Giles own life, while the chief protagonist is loosely based on her mother. This is a tale of a committed teacher that immigrates to Piney Ridge deep in the Kentucky hills to teach in a dilapidated one-room schoolhouse. The schoolhouse is the least of her problems though, as the learners are the proud and stubborn Appalachian who refuse to change their ancient ways. They have no problem listening to her silly ideas on sanitation among other stupid concepts given that, to them arguing with a stranger is rude. But despite listening respectfully, they continue with their age old ways. Miss Willie is soon forced to concede that the Appalachians, while seemingly backward, have a dignity and beauty of their own. Maybe her efforts to convince them that their ways were backward were the problem. She changes tact and starts to adopt a more humorous, generous, and warm approach, which helps her find fulfillment and soon she bridges the gap with her Piney Ridge learners. Overall, the novel is a story of the coming together of different cultures, to respect each other’s ways of life however weird they may seem.

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