Critical Context

While the collection of works by Catherine Marshall over her lifetime is extensive, Christy is the one work that can be singled out as appealing specifically to juveniles and young adults.

Although an excellent coming-of-age vehicle, Christy is perhaps inappropriate for general use in the public school system because of its heavily religious overtones. Nevertheless, this novel’s carefully researched and finely drawn portraits of the proud mountain men and women of the Tennessee Great Smoky Mountains make it of particular interest to colleges and universities with an Appalachian studies concentration. It is also of interest and great encouragement to young persons in the Appalachian region of the United States who must contend with the “hillbilly” stereotype associated with their birthplace, and it provides realistic depictions of Appalachian life for those unfamiliar with the region. In the early 1990’s, a television series based on Christy became popular for several seasons before its syndication in early 1995.

Christy is Marshall’s only novel among her series of biographical and Christian devotional works. In 1951, she published A Man Called Peter: The Story of Peter Marshall, a biography of the life of her first husband, a well-known minister and chaplain of the Senate from 1947 until his death in 1949. Her devotional books include discussions of prayer and of the Holy Spirit; the better-known works are God Loves You (1953), To Live Again (1957), Beyond Our Selves (1961), and Something More (1974). A second novel, set in Pennsylvania in the 1930’s, was never completed. In addition to her fiction and devotional works, Marshall edited several volumes of her late husband’s sermons, collectively entitled Mr. Jones, Meet the Master (1949; rev. ed., 1950).

Because the major themes of Christy are universal, the novel itself is timeless; Marshall has produced a vivid and enduring contribution to the field of young adult literature.