Until The Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas

When family tragedy derails Henry Phillips’s college studies, he’s left unmoored and feeling abandoned. The only things that can tamp down his grief are the family farm, his fiddle, and an unexpected friendship with sweet but unusual preteen Mayfair Hoffman.

Unfortunately, Mayfair’s older sister, Margaret, despite her spray of freckles and cute, turned-up nose, has a completely different effect. His grandmother’s helper, she’s always around, ready to push his buttons, and it seems at first that she doesn’t care about his troubles.
Henry soon realizes, though, that Margaret’s facing her own struggles. Mayfair’s health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries. Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as potential tragedy collides with growing hope in a warm story of family bonds and the surprising ways healing finds us all.

You may purchase this novel HERE.

Author’s Q and A ~

1. Where did you get the idea for Until the Harvest?
After writing Miracle in a Dry Season I really wanted to continue the Phillips family saga but with new characters. Dipping into the next generation seemed like a logical step. Henry is Casewell and Perla’s son—basically a good kid who honors his parents and does what’s expected. But how might a “good kid” react if his world was suddenly turned upside down by tragedy? Of course, Henry needed a foil, so I introduced him to Margaret Hoffman—a no-nonsense girl who isn’t very sentimental. Unless we’re talking about her little sister Mayfair who has an unusual gift—people she cares about seem be healed when she’s around. Of course, there’s physical healing and then there’s the spiritual healing Henry—and Margaret—need. This story let me explore how that might look.

2. How attached do you get to your characters? In my first novel a secondary character dies. After writing that scene, I sat back in my chair, feeling sad. Then I reached for the phone to call my dad since I knew he’d want to come to the funeral. Fortunately, I remembered my character wasn’t real before I dialed. As much as I enjoyed writing new characters in Until the Harvest, much of my joy was in spending time with some favorites from the first book. Frank Post and the Talbot sisters will forever and always be some of my favorite people. Sometimes I think about going to visit them…

3. Were there really still moonshiners in West Virginia in the 1970s?
While the end of Prohibition put a dent in the moonshining business, there was still a good bit of illegal alcohol being produced in the hills and hollers of West Virginia in the 1970s. Some counties were dry and some folks simply preferred drinking the liquor they knew. I researched newspapers from that time and found quite a few articles about the authorities raiding moonshine operations. Of course, there was less of it, which is why Charlie Simmons was looking to get into other, even less savory, sources of income. Of course, these days there are several legal distilleries in the state—I think it’s become something of a fad.

4. What’s been the highlight of your writing journey thus far? The highlight was when my husband introduced me at the launch party for Miracle in a Dry Season. It’s hard to get up and talk when your husband has told the audience he still feels like he did on your wedding day eighteen years ago. The whole day was simply amazing. That morning, the pastor filling the pulpit in our little church, where we held the event, preached about Jesus feeding the five thousand (he had no idea that was the inspiration for the book). My mom and dad were there as well as other family members. We had a bean supper and square dancing along with the book sale and reading. So many friends came out that they filled the sanctuary. Days like that remind me that rankings and sales are not the measure of success. Love is.

About The Author

Sarah Loudin Thomas is a fundraiser for a children’s ministry, who has also written for Mountain Homes Southern Style and Now & Then magazines, as well as The Asheville Citizen-Times. Her debut novel was Miracle in a Dry Season. She holds a BA in English from Coastal Carolina University. She and her husband reside in Asheville, North Carolina. She can be found online at www.sarahloudinthomas.com

My Thoughts

This was the first time I read any work from this author, and I look forward to reading more of her novels.  Her writing style is slow and easy, revealing bits and pieces about the characters, and always leaving the reader wanting just a bit more.  Although at first glance, the characters may seem simplistic folk, but as I read, they evolved into more complex and very interesting characters.  Sadly, I hated to have this novel end and look forward to reading more from this author.

The story of the first book Miracle In A Dry Season  continues with the minor characters, Henry Phillips, son of the main characters of her first novel, and Mayfair, and her sister Margaret who cares for her.  When Henry’s father dies, his life is completely thrown off track by unwise decisions. Through his grandmother, he becomes more familiar with no-nonsense Margaret and her frail sister Mayfield, who at times, seemed autistic to this reader. 

The  conclusion of this story was charming and although a sequel, this novel’s plot stands alone.  The simple life, with endearing characters will draw you to Wise, W Virginia.  I look forward to reading more of her writing and recommend Until The Harvest as your next book to read.

Thank you to Sarah Loudin Thomas and Bethany House for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.