FALLING LEAVES AND MOUNTAIN ASHES
Starting in 1899, this 40-year saga is the tragic story of how the Blue Ridge mountain people ultimately become displaced to make way for the Shenandoah National Park. Set against an authentic background of mountain life, andthe raw, unspoiled beauty of the mountains, it is a rich weave of humor and heartache, love and violence, courage and brutality, feuds and strong family ties.
A brave young mountain woman, Mary Harley, elopes to Claw Mountain, to marry Zachary Thomas Buchanan, the eldest of the Buckos, the violent and lawless sixteen living sons of Obediah who comes from a wealthy valley family, but is a fugitive from the law and a renowned moonshiner. The Buchanan clan has been feuding with the neighboring Galtreys for 30 years. The handsome, knife-scarred Eli is one of the younger Buckos, but the most feared. However, nobody, except Zachary Thomas, knows the dark, terrible secret he harbors within him. Desperately unhappy living with her silent, uncommunicative husband, Mary, pregnant with her first child, attempts to escape the mountain, but is caught, and becomes horrified witness to the terrible brutality of the clans patriarch. Then she and Zachary Thomas are thrown together during a long, terrible winter. . .
Eli, a natural mimic and gifted pretender, enters Skyland, a famous mountain summer resort, to sell moonshine to its colorful owner. He falls madly in love with Annabel, the beautiful daughter of a reverend who he saves from being struck by a rattlesnake. He later moves to Washington to become a partner in a distillery, and be close to Annabel, even though she is engaged to an aide to vice president Theodore Roosevelt. Eli becomes wealthy and successful, his own influence even extending to the White House. After Prohibition is enacted, Reverend Cotterall becomes the countrys leading Prohibitionist and is determined to keep his daughter away from Eli, whom he loathes.
The story comes to a dramatic climax when devastating secrets are revealed.