Historical Fiction Review
H. Greeley Thornhill has crafted a poignant historical novel that follows two men for seventy years through life’s trials against the backdrop of country music. His talent as a storyteller is strong as the reader cheers and cries for the men and what they did “for the Love of Country.”
Country music stars Orville Taylor and Ben Wallace are involved in a wreck, which leaves them trapped in their car in a Louisiana swamp. As they wait for rescue, Orville remembers his years with Ben. The lonely boys were drawn to each other with Ben taking the position as leader. As boys, they would sit on Ben’s porch as Ben played guitar and Orville played harmonica.
After high school graduation, Ben and Orville join the Army and find themselves in the Korean Conflict. The war bonds them as brothers, and their love of America grows stronger. The promise to a dying boy called “Tennessee,” sets the stage for a highly emotional scene later in the novel. After Ben and Orville return home, they form a string band called “Ben, Me and Them.”
Of the players who joined them, Larry stands out. He is a gifted composer and musician, who is disowned by his minister father for performing music in honky tonks. Larry’s faith remains strong and his inner battle comes out in his songs.
After Ben and Orville are rescued, the country music stars fall out of the limelight during their slow recoveries. The relationships at home change, but the love remains true. Ben and Orville rise to their natural talents as country music legends and industry tycoons.
The real personalities of country music serve as a reference point to the changes in art form throughout the decades -- from the days where country music ruled the South, through the birth of Rock and Roll, and to the return of traditional country rhythms. References to radio shows, the road tours, instruments, studio, musical style, and stardom create a reality that comes from being an industry insider.
For the Love of Country is rich in the American Dream – where poor boys can use their talents to rise to wealth and fame. Small town values and patriotism run strong.
As Thornhill wrote the lyrics for the songs within the novel, the songs came to life musically. He produced thirteen of the fifteen songs lyrics included in the storyline, and the book may be bought with or without that CD. The mellow rhythms, harmony and heartfelt lyrics of the traditional country songs stand alone.
Like the characters in his novel who were driven to follow the music, Thornhill has written this book -- For the Love of Country.
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