“A Cup of Dust” and “A Trail of Crumbs” are two books written by Susie Finkbeiner. Her stories take place during the Great Depression as seen through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl. The writing was so descriptive that I could almost taste the dust and grit in my own mouth as I read. The depiction of life in Oklahoma, in the middle of the Dust Bowl, was heartbreaking. Farmers became destitute…no food, no money, no hope. Businesses closed down, no one had money to purchase anything. You could only barter so much. Many pulled up stakes and headed west to greener pastures.
Pearl Spence and her family lived in Red River, Oklahoma, where her father was the sheriff. Pearl was a normal little girl, not particularly interested in doing girly things, but more interested in climbing trees and getting dirty, which was not hard to do with dust blowing all the time. Keeping house during this time was a waste of good energy because as soon as you swept it up, it just came in under the doors and through the cracks in the window frames. Pearl was mostly a happy girl with a best friend in Ray Jones. Ray and Pearl did lots of things together, and got into trouble together too.
I loved these stories. They were written in the vernacular of the time and the expressions used were reminiscent of life in the country. The accounts of life in the dust made me appreciate the life we live now. No one knows how hard life and living was in the ‘30s. Fortunes made were fast dispensed as the laws of nature dealt a harsh blow to the midland.
“Go Away Home” by Carol Bodensteiner reminds me of the old adage: “You can take the girl off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the girl.” This book is written about a farm girl in Iowa in 1913 when the United States was on the cusp of entering the First World War.
Liddie can’t wait to leave the farm and travel to see new sights and find new opportunities. She is ready to go to town and become a seamstress which she thinks will open many doors for her future. In spite of some serious events occurring within her family, she gets the opportunity she’s been looking for and beyond. She meets a photographer and learns about his trade. He wants her to go to Paris with him to take pictures of the war as his bride, although reading between the lines he just wants an assistant. During her stay in town, she has kept up a correspondence with a former hired hand from her family’s farm, who has gone to Canada to homestead. She needs to choose which life she would rather lead, that of a farm wife, or that of a world traveler. In the life she chooses, she finds that there is happiness, good times, bad times and times which are almost impossible to endure. In the end, the skills and character that she develops in growing up on a farm stand her in good stead for the rest of her life.
I thought that the author did a wonderful job of portraying farm life as it would have been in that time period. Life was hard, yet rewarding and the lessons learned during the growing-up years followed a person throughout life. I enjoyed reading this simple yet complex story of one girl’s journey to happiness. NetGalley.com and Lake Union Publishers provided me with a complimentary Kindle copy of this book.
“When Winter is Past” by Janice Cole Hopkins is a novel about the life in colonial Pennsylvania in 1739. Stanton Klein was a farmer in the area outside of Philadelphia. He has lost his wife and unborn child a year ago and was trying to run his farm along with an indentured servant. He knew he needed a wife to help run the farm and decided to go into the town of Middleville to search for an appropriate bride.
He wisely went to his minister to ask for suggestions as to where he might start to look. He was enamored of a beautiful girl, Fiona Fletcher, whose parents seemed eager for her to wed. But after witnessing her treatment of a crippled young woman, he determined that she would not be a caring wife. He asked about Beth Evans, the crippled woman who was caring for her father who was very ill. She had endured the bullying and scorn from Fiona and her friends by turning the other cheek and walking away. After befriending Beth, Stanton found his bride. Beth’s father asked that they wed soon as he was aware that his time on earth was limited.
After they wed, Beth proved to be a loving wife and helping companion to him and the farm. However, alarming incidents started occurring which no one could explain. It all began when someone had entered their home during the night and left grotesque severed chicken parts on their dining table. Beth was shot as she searched for mushrooms; Ralph, the indentured servant was shot, and Beth was abducted briefly as she was doing her farm work. Finding the culprit(s) and staying safe consumed Stanton. The end to this story was heart-warming. I enjoyed reading this novel very much.
I purchased a Kindle copy of this book from Amazon.com. No review positive or otherwise was required – all opinions are my own.
Jane Shoup is a very good writer. I just finished two of the books in her “Valley” series. The first one is “Down in the Valley”. Miss Emeline Wright left Green Valley, West Virginia to go to college. While there, she met a very nice man who invited her to visit him in Richmond and sent his aunt as a chaperone for her trip. But, he has NOT a nice man and kept her captive for a year as he tried to make her submit by beating and humiliating her. She finally escaped, making her way back home to her uncle. She was a strong woman who was determined to make a go of her uncle’s farm after he passed on. Tommy Medlin was a ranch hand on another spread, but fell in love with Emmie and offered to fund her dreams. They became partners in the running of the farm and soon fell in love, married, and worked hard to make a go of it. However, Ms. Shoup made sure that just when you thought everything would work out fine, she through another twist into the story. When I come across a story that keeps evolving; I cannot put the book away until I’ve finished it. This is one of those books. I stayed up way too late to finish reading this novel. I know readers will like this series.
I received a print copy of this book from NightOwlReviews.com in return for my honest review.
I read and reviewed “Huckleberry Hill” by Jennifer Beckstrand, and have just finished her novel “Huckleberry Summer”. I was pleasantly taken back to Felty and Annie Helmuth’s home. I very much enjoy the humerous banter between Felty and Annie Banannie and their quest to see that every one of their grandchildren marry well.
They have decided that their bad-boy grandson Aden needs to meet and fall in love with Lily Eicher. So Annie invites Aden to come and “help” them around their farm for the summer. She also asks shy Lily Eicher to come and help her garden and can and take care of the house during the week.
Aden has a reputation for getting into trouble. However, the trouble stems from his desire to make the world a better place. He is a “tree-hugger’, who wants the environment to flourish and for people to conserve and recycle. He is also a vegetarian, which prompts Annie to learn new dishes to cook for him while he is with them.
Lily is a reticent person who sees danger in every little thing. She keeps hand sanitizer with her always and uses it scrupulously. Her father has put fear in her of getting close to handsome young men, because of something that happened to his brother earlier on. This has made Lily shy and retiring and very careful whom she befriends.
I enjoyed reading about this courtship, if you could call it that at times. Aden is a very likable fellow and has many friends, while Lily holds everyone at arm’s length to protect herself. I think this book is very sweet and enjoyable to read.
Night Owl Reviews and Netgalley.com provided a free print advance reading copy in return for my honest review of this book.