Small Towns…Big Love

by | Nov 2, 2018 | Pepper Basham | 9 comments

What is it about small towns?

I mean, seriously, Hallmark has basically made an entire network out of small-town stories. And then there are the zillions of books plots that involve either fictional or real-life towns from all over the country…and even the world.

I grew up in a small-town and LOVE writing about them, but I’ve always been interested why there’s this large appeal. Before we talk about some of the reasons I think small-towns are a BIG hit, let’s name a few ‘classic’ small towns:

The set for Bedford Falls (It’s a Wonderful Life), 1946  via life

Bedford Falls – Pinterest

Jan Karon’s Mitford.

Bedford Falls.

Mayberry (one of my favorites because I was raised just outside of it)

Hallmark’s Evergreen

Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford

Meryton in Pride and Prejudice or Highbury in Emma

Middlemarch by George Elliot

And, of course, there’s Agatha Christie, Sarah Addison Allen, LM Montgomery, Robyn Carr, Debbie Macomber, and so many MORE!!!!

So…why are small towns so appealing? (My opinions here)

  1. To steal from the Cheers theme – we wanna go where everybody knows our names- small towns bring a sense of community to them and along with that…a sense of belonging. There’s just something sweet about them, like a perfectly wrapped package for a delightful romance 😊
  2. Quaint – small towns have a charm. There are unique traditions, special buildings, friendly smiles, and welcome folks. (at least, that’s what we see in most of our fictional places 😉…but I’ve found it to be true in a lot of the real-life ones too)
  3. The sun will go on rising and setting whether I fail (in geometry) or not. Rachel Lynde - Anne of Green Gables

    Rachel Lynde – Anne of Green Gables Pinterest


    Quirky/unique characters – it’s true, unique characters happen EVERYWHERE, but they seem to be particularly highlighted in small towns. Oh my! There’s the resident sage. Or the local busybody. Or the quirky neighbor.

  4. Scenery – most of our small town (whether in the grand west, on the coast, or in the mountains) bring a view with them. White picket fences, cobblestone streets, lantern-lit walkways, a village nestled at the base of snow-crested mountains
  5. Memorable places to come back and visit again. For some reason, most of these small town settings create an environment of ‘home’ just by the atmosphere. As readers or viewers we step into a world we feel like we ‘know’. There’s a great deal of sweet predictability that appeals to our love that goes back to #1…belonging and home.

Okay, so tell me what you love about small towns? Can you name some books and authors who celebrate the coziness of small towns?

pepper (1)


  1. jengalaxy4

    My reasons are the same as yours! 🙂 I love it even more when the character lives above the shop he/she owns. 🙂

    • pepperbasham

      AHHHH!!!! And that’s happening in one of my current WIPs too, Jen! So much fun, right?

  2. susiesellnergmailcom

    I remember that Deeanne Gist wrote about a telephone operator in Brenham, TX. Karen Witemeyer writes about small western towns. Denise Hunter sets many of her books in small towns. I think the small town makes one feel at home and known, perhaps loved, and one feels more comfortable knowing one’s surroundings and community.

    • pepperbasham

      Totally true, Susie! I love that feeling of community a small-town brings with it

  3. Paula Shreckhise

    Love small towns. I grew up in Northern Illinois along the Fox River. We had lots of small towns. My favorite was Geneva. They had Swedish Days every summer. Everything was quaint, lots of history.
    I love stories about small towns for the same reasons you stated. We are currently streaming Lark Rise to Candelford, another Elizabeth Gaskell. It is so well done! Loved Cranford, too.

  4. Courtney @ The Green Mockingbird Blog

    I LOVE SMALL TOWNS. I live in one! It’s really true that you can’t go to Walmart without seeing someone you know.
    I have visited a few small towns out of state that I would love to spend more time in. One this summer, in Colorado, just seemed like a place I could live! (No plans to do that, however)

    Small towns in books: Maple Valley in Melissa Tagg’s series always comes to mind, along with Harbor Pointe in Courtney Walsh’s recent series. Both are quaint and lovely with fun town “characters”.

  5. martyomenko

    As someone that grew up in a really small town, and was so happy to move to a little bigger small town as an adult, I sometimes roll my eyes. It sounds so much nicer in a book than in real life. I went to visit my mom last month, and stopped in at the grocery store. This is like 10 pm at night and yet, yes, the checker was a young woman whom I had not seen since I was 17. We had about a 15 minute conversation and I am not much of a conversationalist.
    Now multiply that by about 10, every grocery store visit you make during the day, everyone you see, you know someone.
    I still know so many people in the town I live in now, but at least it is easier to keep my head down!

  6. Angi Griffis

    I live in a small town, and I love it! It’s true, that when you go places, you probably will see someone that you know. I work at a hardware store and have gotten to know A LOT of people over the years, and it’s fun being able to greet many of my customers by their first names when they walk through the door. And how many places do you know where the customers actually bring treats in because they appreciate you being there (we’ve had customers bring in homemade cookies, ice cream, and most recently, homemade banana bread).

    I love the old buildings and hearing about the history of the town. The rural settings, tall trees, rivers, places to hike and corn fields, all within just a few miles of my home. To me, it’s a special place, a place I call home.


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