Drivin’ Woman is a historical romance set against the backdrop of the tobacco industry.
As the Civil War ends, America “Merry” Moncure runs what’s left of her family and its plantation. Merry marries a cousin, Fant Annabel, and moves with him to Kentucky from her Virginia home.
When Fant jumps from a riverboat to avoid a murder charge, he leaves Merry penniless and pregnant. Fortunately, a distant relative who assumes as everyone does that Fant us dead, leaves his farm in trust to Merry’s child.
Merry drives herself and her hired help hard to make the farm profitable, but her “late husband” reappears stealthily every few years, leaving her cashless and pregnant. The community and her four children consider Merry a whore.
Meanwhile, few savvy traders are turning tobacco into a major industry. By the time Fant is killed in a shootout in Merry’s yard, the trading syndicate has a stranglehold on tobacco farmers. One of its leaders is Merry’s brother-in-law.
The farmers unite to sell their tobacco as a block to keep the price up, but it’s Merry who saves the day.
Elizabeth Pickett Chevalier chose her historical setting well. It provides cover for a contrived plot and characters that never quite ring true. There’s plenty of entertainment in this novel, and a generous dollop of historical insight as well.Drivin’ Woman Elizabeth Pickett Chevalier MacMillan, 1945 652 pages My Grade: C+ 1942 Bestseller #5
Photo credit: “Tobacco Field” uploaded by carterboy http://www.sxc.hu/photo/560057