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West Virginia Crude by Valerie Banfield and Sue Copeland

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The Prologue to this novel is dated 1755 in the Kanawha River Valley of present-day West Virginia. Chapter 1 takes us to Walker, West Virginia in 1879. But then chapter 8 brings us to 1949. And then the chapters go back and forth from 1949 to the nineteenth century all the way up to 1913. To cap things off, there is a 1996 Epilogue. The word “crude” in the title refers to the oil industry, and much of the plot tension in the novel centers around the conflict between that industry and West Virginians who object to the environmental destruction that comes with it. Characters range widely in age, but much of the 1949 section of the book centers on a six-year-old, Billy Jean, who is determined to save her family from ruin. This is co-author Sue Copeland’s first foray into fiction, but Valerie Banfield is in double figures. Sue Copeland, a seamstress, is from West Virginia, and returned there after many years away. Valerie Banfield, a basket-maker, followed her interest in the Mountain State to residence there.

Scotts Valley, California: CreateSpace, 2018. 334 pages. Trade paperback with an unattributed frontispiece drawing.