“Here’s To The Women”


This Sunday is International Women’s Day about which I know nothing beyond its notation on my calendar. However, it seemed a timely moment to share a memoir I recently finished, Hill Women by Cassie Chambers. Chambers, raised in Eastern Kentucky, in a terrain of hollows and coal mines, tries to show us a glimpse of the strong women who surrounded her as she grew up.

The Appalachian people are often either denigrated or held up as examples of whatever the writer wants to portray. Chambers aimed for a more balanced view. Yes there is poverty, but there is also resourcefulness. Yes, there are few jobs, but people aren’t eager to leave everything they know to find employment. Yes there is much domestic violence, but there is also deep family connection.

Unlike many writers, Chambers returned to Kentucky after law school intent on providing legal services to women from her home country. While she lives in Louisville now, she has been instrumental in changing some laws that adversely affected poor women. One such law required a woman divorcing an abusing husband to pay his legal fees!

I spent a year traveling the back roads of Oregon providing Head Start in home for children too scattered to come to a common classroom. The women holding those families together resembled the ones Chambers chronicles. Fierce, proud, conflicted, dealing with poverty and volatile men, they had no interest in leaving the Oregon woods for the “big city” either.

The book reminded me to hesitate to suggest that people with few employment prospects “simply move.” There is no such thing as a “simple” relocation.


21 thoughts on ““Here’s To The Women”

  1. Like the women you mention, my experience is that women are stronger than men in adverstity, Women will usually do anything to keep a family together, whereas many men will seek comfort in alcohol, or the arms of another woman.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes, social issues have differing levels of complexity that are not always easily visible from those on the outside looking in.
    Domestic abuse also has its own set of dynamics that many do not understand, especially when children & poverty are factors in the mix.
    Thank you Elizabeth for this review it sounds like an informative read.
    Bless you,

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, we have small pockets of poverty here in Australia, although we generall enjoy a fairly comfortable economy.
        But domestic abuse knows no bounds & sadly is found at all economic levels, in all communities & cultures. 😦 As you may have heard recently with the horrific murder of a mother & her 3 small children by her estranged abusive husband.
        We have good safety nets here in place with our welfare system for those who are in great need & free public health & medical care in all states for all Australian citizens.
        We also have the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) which looks after those who have a disability & are in need of extra care or items for quality of life.
        We all contribute to these through our income tax & GSTaxes. We are one of the highest taxed countries in the world.
        But I feel this is very worthwhile to look after everyone here that needs that extra care. 😀


        1. I can never understand people’s resistance to higher taxes for services that help everyone. I had not heard of that murder, but we certainly have our fair share of identical events.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Well said, Elizabeth. There is no simple relocation. That’s city talk. Women have a deeper strength than men. Rural Kentucky was pretty close to my West Virginia upbringing. They grow strong women.


  4. And may I add my two cents worth? For every migrant and immigrant – here, there, and everywhere around the world; past, present, and in the future – there will always be those who stay, who remain….for a multitude of reasons.


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