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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

What the Mountains Remember

Narrator: Brittany Pressley

ISBN: 9781400244317

Publisher: Harper Muse

Publication Date: 04/02/2024

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)

At this wondrous resort, secrets can easily be hidden in plain sight when the eye is trained on beauty.

April 1913—Belle Newbold hasn’t seen mountains for seven years—since her father died in a mining accident and her mother married gasoline magnate, Shipley Newbold.

But when her stepfather’s business acquaintance, Henry Ford, invites the family on one of his famous Vagabonds camping tours, she is forced to face the hills once again—primarily in order to reunite with her future fiancé, owner of the land the Vagabonds are using for their campsite, a man she’s only met once before.

It is a veritable arranged marriage, but she prefers it that way. Belle isn’t interested in love. She only wants a simple life—a family of her own and the stability of a wealthy man’s pockets. That’s what Worth Delafield has promised to give her and it’s worth facing the mountains again, the reminder of the past, and her poverty, to secure her future.

But when the Vagabonds group is invited to tour the unfinished Grove Park Inn and Belle is unexpectedly thrust into a role researching and writing about the building of the inn—a construction the locals are calling The Eighth Wonder of the World—she quickly realizes that these mountains are no different from the ones she once called home.

As Belle peels back the facade of Grove Park Inn, of Worth, of the society she’s come to claim as her own, and the truth of her heart, she begins to see that perhaps her part in Grove Park’s story isn’t a coincidence after all. Perhaps it is only by watching a wonder rise from ordinary hands and mountain stone that she can finally find the strength to piece together the long-destroyed path toward who she was meant to be.

International bestselling author Joy Callaway returns with a story of the ordinary people behind extraordinary beauty—and the question of who gets to tell their stories.

My Review

Joy Callaway, a master southern storyteller, returns with an exquisite tale, WHAT THE MOUNTAINS REMEMBER, exploring the history and building of the iconic Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC.

A story of the ordinary people behind extraordinary beauty.

Set in 1913 and later, Asheville, North Carolina, readers meet Belle Newbold. Her parents have been invited along for a glamping adventure. Her stepfather, Shipley Newbold, a gas magnate is friends with Henry Ford. Women of elevated social status do not spend time outdoors, camping, or more than an hour or two in the elements, so she is curious about this adventure.

Her mother had forbidden her to speak of the particulars of their former life the moment she met Papa Shipley. No one knew of their true history and never would. Her father had been a coal miner. Papa Shipley was a millionaire who owned most of the gasoline wells in Indiana.

Before the term “glamping” was coined, American trailblazers Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and John Burroughs were some of the first to set up camp in style.

The group called themselves “The Vagabonds” and took almost yearly vacations across the US from 1914 to 1924, contributing to the creation of the great American road trip as we know it today. In the summer of 1918, these four men stopped in Asheville at the unfinished Grove Park Inn.

Belle's future fiancé, Worth Delafield, owns the land used for their campsite. Their marriage would be arranged, and she has only met him once.

Will the Blue Ridge Mountains be any different than the mountains in West Virginia, where she has fond memories of her birth father?

Belle is delighted to receive an invitation to tour the unfinished Grove Park with the owners behind the project, Fred Seely and Edwin Wiley Grove.

Belle soon learns much about Grove Park Inn and the community. She is asked to research and write a newspaper story about the inn's construction and the workers involved, documenting the stories behind the construction of the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”

Belle also learns that once a tourist attraction, the town seems to be sanatoriums housing tuberculosis patients. There are many with TB and what about the workers building the inn?

In her latest novel, North Carolina novelist Joy Callaway takes readers to the legendary Asheville hotel during its construction in the 1910s with meticulous research, expertly blending fact with fiction with a retelling of the South's grandest hotel.

The construction process was fascinating! If you have spent time there, you will appreciate it even more after reading WHAT THE MOUNTIAN REMEMBERS. This is also Belle's story of self-discovery, class, and tribute to those responsible for building the inn, iconic and timeless with breathtaking views and backdrop. A must-read for North Carolinians.

I am not a huge fan of historical fiction (Preferring mysteries, thrillers, and literary fiction); however, the minute I saw this cover, without reading the summary, I knew it was the Grove Park Inn and had to read it. It is a mystery as well as historical. The inn is grand with a cozy lodge feel, a large stone fireplace that is so inviting, views on every level, stunning architecture, and elegant exterior and interiors. I highly recommend going in the fall and during the Christmas season.

As a Charlotte, NC native (like the author), I have often stayed at The Grove Park Inn (now The Omni Grove Park Inn 2013). As a regional VP hotel consultant for many years, I had the pleasure of consulting with Grove Park, touring every department, and meeting with each of them. It is a sight to behold, especially the spa! Whether you choose the old or the new accommodations (I have stayed in both), the Inn is rich in history, time, place, and character. It is exquisite. You will be transported back in time while enjoying the luxuries of the modern day for a memorable experience. I have recommended the hotel to many over the years and look forward to returning.

I have spent much time in Asheville, working with commercial, hotel, resort vacation, and mixed-use properties. It is a lovely city. If you have not visited, I highly recommend it. I am on a 5-year waiting list for a property to relocate there.

Thanks to Harper Muse and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy for an honest opinion.The audiobook, narrated by Brittany Pressley, a favorite, enhanced the overall story with a stellar performance, bumping the rating from 4 to 5 stars.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars

Pub Date: April 2, 2024


'A stunning portrayal of the building of the Grove Park Inn that reveals not only its grandeur, but also the struggles of the laborers tasked with its construction, Joy Callaway brings the famed Vagabonds to life with immaculate research and rich details in this intriguing, elegantly written historical fiction that readers are going to love!'

-- Madeline Martin, New York Times Bestseller author of THE KEEPER OF HIDDEN BOOKS

'An emotionally moving novel, Calloway's, WHAT THE MOUNTAINS REMEMBER takes us down an entertaining path that explores memories from the past with forging a new future, and how the hardships we've endured make us stronger. With cameos from some of Americas motorcar icons, and the builders of the Grove Park Inn, this meticulously researched novel is an adventurous transport through the hills and forests of North Carolina the mountains of West Virginia, with characters you'll root for, and a few you'll love to loathe. This drama-packed page turner will warm your heart, and keep you turning the pages late into the night!'

-- Eliza Knight, USA Today and international bestselling author of STARRING ADELE ASTAIRE

'Callaway is back with another insightful rendering of a place and time in history, bringing her trademark attention to detail, warmth, and heart to a story centered around one of the nation's most beautiful and fabled hotels, the Grove Park Inn in Asheville NC. Readers will root for Belle as she uncovers more than she expected, and discovers herself along the way.'

-- Marybeth Mayhew Whalen, author of ten novels and cofounder of THE BOOK TIDE

'Joy Callaway never fails to bring the past to life in brilliant color. This book has it all: the lush mystery of the mountains, the dauntless resolve of a woman at work, and the breathtaking art of building something that will last for generations. I absolutely loved it.'

-- Amy Jo Burns, author of MERCURY

'WHAT THE MOUNTAINS REMEMBER brings the reader to the lush landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains with an elegant group of famous society glampers to observe the construction of the fabled Grove Park Inn. A young woman confronts class distinction and the restraints of a woman's place set against the hardscrabble lives of the laborers. Joy Calloway weaves a dramatic, heartfelt story of self-discovery and a hard-won love against the stunning backdrop the 'Eighth Wonder of the World.''

-- Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author of TIME IS A RIVER

'With vivid imagery and deep research, Joy Callaway sweeps readers away to the Blue Ridge Mountains for a story of how secrets and desperation can threaten hopes for the future. Callaway explores the places we come from and the people we become with care and nuance. Atmospheric and hope-filled, this is a must read for fans of historical fiction and strong female protagonists.'


About the Author

Author of Historical Fiction

Joy Callaway’s love of storytelling is a direct result of her parents’ insistence that she read books or write stories instead of watching TV. Her interest in family history was fostered by her relatives’ habit of recounting tales of ancestors’ lives. Joy is a full-time mom and writer. She formerly served as a marketing director for a wealth management company. She holds a B.A. in Journalism and Public Relations from Marshall University and an M.M.C. in Mass Communication from the University of South Carolina.

She resides in Charlotte, NC with her husband, John, and her children, Alevia and John.

Meet Joy at one of her upcoming events or through a local Book Club! WEBSITE



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