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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Horrifying Life on Isolated Farms~"The Quickening" by Michelle Hoover

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Published by:  Other Press
Pages:  215



About the Author :

Michelle Hoover teaches writing at Boston University ('nuf sed! LOL) and Grub Street and has published fiction in Controntation, The Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner, and Best New American Voices.  She has been a Bread Loaf Writer's Conference scholar, the Philip Roth Writer-in-Residence at Bucknell University, a MacDowell fellow, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and in 2005 the winner of the PEN/New England Discovery Award for Fiction.  She was born in Ames, Iowa, the granddaughter of four longtime farming families.

The Dame's Humble Review:

This is one of those novels that leaves one breathless and speechless.  It's taken me a very unusual two days to grasp how I might convey the depth and beauty of "The Quickening."  I even confess to the gratuitous blog entry title just to get more readers to read the review of this gem of a book.

Set in Iowa in 1913 until 1950, this is the story of two families caught up in lives of farming and its tolls.  The book equally tells a story through the "voices" of neighbor women, Enidina and Mary, each of whom have come to their circumstances by way of a quick marriage and a hopeful new beginning.

These women have struggles and horrific psychological and physical injuries to overcome forcing them to rely upon each other, though they are not naturally drawn to the friendship.  In fact, the women are vastly different, yet, the forced isolation and loneliness of their farming life causes them to form an uncomfortable bond.  This unlikely bond includes their husbands, as well.

I can tell you no more about this book without spoiling it than to say that birthings and hardships, misunderstandings and murderous feelings, love and hate--all the most elemental of human interactions, are written about most beautifully and heart-wrenchingly.

I feel so inept when I attempt to evaluate the writing of Ms Hoover.  What a superior writer she is, hands down.  Her writing style is like that of great authors.  I'm reminded of Wallace Stegner and even Steinbeck's "East of Eden." 

Michelle Hoover doesn't attempt to tell us how her characters feel and why they react in life's circumstances, she writes the story and we feel the gut-wrenching impact of the hard-scrabble life of farming and isolation on them; both male and female.

While I was reading "The Quickening," I knew I was in the hands of a great author.  It is that rare book; intelligent, insightful, gripping and so tender it could break your heart.  I have no doubt her family has shared some of the farm life with her.

Needless to say, this is one for my library.  I hope someday my granddaughters will read it.  I'm sending my daughter a copy.  It's a book for the mid-west. 

My first husband's father and grandfather came from Iowa, they were farmers.  My father-in-law, so I was told, was a reluctant farmboy who was very close to his mother.  She had "pernicious enemia" and he cared for her, making sure she ate her raw liver as prescribed by the doctor in those days.  It seems he hated his father.

These men from my former husband's family were stoic and not physically affectionate...closed off emotionally as we would classify them these days.  What an insightful book Ms Hoover has written on that score.  I wish my Jack were alive to read her book, it would explain a lot to him. He was never able to understand their relationship, and never really able to understand his dad's cold nature.

I was so swept up by this book.  It's on my "favorites" list.  Please buy it for yourselves.

5 stars for one of the best books ever

Deborah/TheBookishDame

2 comments:

reviewsbylola

I know I have seen a few reviews of this one but I am off to make absolutely certain that it is on my wishlist because I am definitely going to read it after reading your review!

Mrs. Q: Book Addict

Oh, wow this one sounds like a must read. I'll have to check it out. great post!

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