Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Women of Troy Hill: The Back-Fence Virtues of Faith and Friendship

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Women of Troy Hill: The Back-Fence Virtues of Faith and Friendship

Article excerpt

The Women of Troy Hill: The Back-Fence Virtues of Faith and Friendship. By Clare Ansberry. New York: Harcourt, 2000. 354 pp. $25.00 (cloth).

The engaging and compelling literary style of the author, Clare Ansbery, immediately draws the reader into the neighborhood of Troy Hill and the lives of the people who live there. In particular, she tells the story of six women now in their seventh and eighth decades who are the backbone of the community.

Less than two miles from downtown Pittsburgh, Troy Hill's roughly three hundred acres of meandering streets and old houses has so much more to offer than the spectacular view of the city below. It is a place where generations of ordinary families have lived ordinary lives, yet their stories are anything but dull, boring, or ordinary. It is about a place where "Men worked. Women neighbored," says one woman (p. 20). Everyone in Troy Hill is your neighbor. In trying to explain how she knows someone else's relative, another woman simply says, "they were always there. We just knew each other" (p. 3). While the women would tell you that their main role is keeping house, their activities prove differently. Certainly, keeping house and raising a family occupies much of their time, but "neighboring" is of prime importance, whether through their church activities or their civic and communal ones.

The women, Mary, Margaret, Cecilia, Edna, Emma and Erna (short for Ernestine) have an unspoken, innate commitment or understanding that part of what they do is look after the neighborhood, Their faith is of prime importance. Skipping church, either on Sunday or mid-week, is unheard of, unless you are really ill. They ride the bus to visit those in nursing homes, they take soup to a sick friend, or look after friends' children (in their younger years), attend funerals, sit in the doctor's waiting room with a friend, they hold fund raisers for their churches, either the Presbyterian or Most Holy Name. …

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