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 General Fiction Review    

 

 
Sweet Hush
by Deborah Smith
Little, Brown and Company, 2003
Hardcover, $23.95 (336 pages)
ISBN: 0-316-80650-1
 
 

Deborah Smith was raised in Georgia apple country, and in Sweet Hush she pulls from those memories to create a novel that is truly a bee charmer. 

The McGillen family came to Georgia shortly after the Civil War and planted their orchard on land where legend says that Union soldiers were buried.  The fruit produced has a sweet meat and is named the “Sweet Hush” after the first Hush McGillen.  The following generations have their ups and downs, but the “Sweet Hush” tradition carries on. 

The fifth Hush McGillen has the bee charming trait -- to be covered in bees without being stung.  In the 1960’s her family is suffering hard times, which take another blow when her father dies.  Twelve year-old Hush uses her strong will and determination to turn the family fortune around.  Setting up her roadside apple stand, Hush lures Atlanta tourists to buy apples or to pay to have their picture taken with the apples.  Her charm and later use of Atlanta media sells her “Sweet Hush” apples by the bushel. 

While still a young teenager, her mother dies, leaving Hush alone to raise her baby brother Logan. A villainous relative tries to get the courts to turn over control of Hush, her brother and the orchard to him.  Hush stands up to the judge with her business sense and the promised help of her beau Davy Thackery.  The judge rules in her favor.  Soon Hush is pregnant with free spirit Davy’s child.  They marry, but he is away at a Nascar event when she gives birth alone. 

In two decades, Sweet Hush Farms becomes a multi-million dollar industry and a major supporter of the community.  Davy Thackery is a famous Nascar driver and owns a car dealership near the interstate, while Hush runs the Sweet Hush Farms.  Their son Davis is raised in the glow of a loving marriage they show in front of him; however, they live separate lives.  Davy Thackery dies on the mountain after trying to break the road’s record time.      

Davis is raised to achieve, and at Harvard he falls in love with Eddie Jacobs, the daughter of the President of the United States.  The best-laid plan of Hush McGillen Thackery turns sour as Davis kidnaps Eddie and races through the gate of Sweet Hush Farms with the Secret Service on his tail.  A stalemate happens as Hush provides sanctuary for the young married and expecting couple.  Hush battles with an equally strong-willed mother First Lady Edwina Jacobs, who is willing to play dirty to win.  

Yet, Hush finds an ally and love with Eddie’s cousin and protector -- Nick Jakobek.  The fearsome ex-military man finds acceptance and peace on Hush’s mountain.  Another quality draws him to Hush, he’s a bee charmer. 

Sweet Hush is a lively adventure with romance and visual qualities perfect for film.  Disney thought so; they’ve bought the film rights.  If the book leaves you wanting more, Deborah Smith has apple folklore and recipes at her site http://www.deborahsmith.com .      

 

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

 

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