Blue Shadows Farm: A Novel

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Fans of Jerry Apps will delight in his latest novel, Blue Shadows Farm, which follows the intriguing family story of three generations on a Wisconsin farm.
    Silas Starkweather, a Civil War veteran, is drawn to Wisconsin and homesteads 160 acres in Ames County, where he is known as the mysterious farmer forever digging holes. After years of hardship and toil, however, Silas develops a commitment to farming his land and respect for his new community. When ...
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Blue Shadows Farm: A Novel

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Fans of Jerry Apps will delight in his latest novel, Blue Shadows Farm, which follows the intriguing family story of three generations on a Wisconsin farm.
    Silas Starkweather, a Civil War veteran, is drawn to Wisconsin and homesteads 160 acres in Ames County, where he is known as the mysterious farmer forever digging holes. After years of hardship and toil, however, Silas develops a commitment to farming his land and respect for his new community. When Silas’s son Abe inherits Blue Shadows Farm he chooses to keep the land out of reluctant necessity, distilling and distributing “purified corn water” throughout Prohibition and the Great Depression in order to stay solvent. Abe’s daughter, Emma, willingly takes over the farm after her mother’s death. Emma’s love for this place inspires her to open the farm to school-children and families who share her respect for it. As she considers selling the land, Emma is confronted with a difficult question—who, through thick and thin, will care for Blue Shadows Farm as her family has done for over a century? In the midst of a controversy that disrupts the entire community, Emma looks into her family’s past to help her make crucial decisions about the future of its land.
    Through the story of the Starkweather family’s changing fortunes, and each generation’s very different relationship with the farm and the land, Blue Shadows Farm is in some ways the narrative of all farmers and the increasingly difficult challenges they face as committed stewards of the land.
Finalist, General Fiction, Midwest Book Awards
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Jerry Apps unravels a family secret that arcs across three generations and delivers a surprising answer for one descendant.”—Philip Hasheider, contributing author to Seasons on the Farm

“Jerry Apps weaves a good tale through three generations of family life, strife, and the fabric of the rural landscape that holds them together.”—David L. Sperling, editor, Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299232504
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 9/16/2009
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 390
  • Sales rank: 326,175
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His many nonfiction books include Every Farm Tells a Story, Country Wisdom, One-Room Country Schools, Cheese, Breweries of Wisconsin, Old Farm, and Ringlingville USA. He is also author of the novels In a Pickle and The Travels of Increase Joseph. Apps received the 2007 Major Achievement Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers.
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Table of Contents

Prologue—November 2000

Part 1
1. Ambush—March 1865   
2. New Orleans Hospital—March 1865   
3. Limited Duty—April 1865   

Part 2
4. Nature Hike—October 2000
5. Sophia—May 1866   
6. Accident—May 1866   
7. Cabin Building—May 1866   
8. Olaf Hanson—May 1866   
9. Sophia's Garden—May 1866   
10. Attack—October 1866   
11. Gardening—October 2000  

Part 3
12. School Board Meeting—October 2000  
13. Memories—October 2000  
14. Snowstorm—December 1866   
15. Wolfgang and Amelia—December 1866   
16. Housekeeper—December 1866   
17. Kitchen Stove—January 1867   
18. Opportunity—October 2000  

Part 4
19. William Steele—October 2   
20. Blue Shadows—February 1867   
21. Mixed Thoughts—May 1867   
22. Wedding—July 1867   
23. New Baby—February 15, 1868   
24. Elsa—April 1872   
25. Increase Joseph—Summer 1872   
26. Going Home—August 1872   
27 Modern Nature Educators, Inc.—November 2000  

Part 5
28. Modern Nature Educators II—November 2000  
29. Greed—Summer 1874   
30. Borrowed Hay Mower—Summer 1874   
31. Tornado—August 1875   
32. Silas and the Arrowheads—Summer 1876   
33. Kate Dugan—November 2000  

Part 6
34. Hiking Emma's Farm—November 2000
35. Abe and the Kittens—May 1880   
36. Quilting Bee—November 1885   
37. School Days—October 1886   
38. Christmas Program—December 1886   
39. Picnic—July 4, 1895   
40. Skinny-Dipping—August 1900   
41. Abe Farming—May 1901   
42. Ole Brothers Circus—July 1902   
43. New House and Barn—Spring 1903   
44. End of an Era—1905   
45. Gravel Pit—1906   
46. Merrifield Visits the Farm—November 2000  

Part 7
47. How Dry I Am—1919   
48. What Now?—Summer 1919   
49. Visitors—Summer 1920   
50. Purified Corn Water—Summer 1920   
51. Living High on the Hog—Summer 1922   
52. Sorrow-Joy-Sorrow—1925   
53. Depression, Then War—Summer 1932   
54. School Board Decision—November 2000  

Part 8
55. Threshing Days—August 1945   
56. Postwar—August 1945   
57. Jim Lockwell—August 1946   
58. Fishing—August 1947   
59. New Year's Eve—December 31, 1949   

Part 9
60. Green Growing Farms—Summer 1960   
61. Holding On—June 1980   
62. Longtime Relationship—1986   
63. Offer—November 2000  
64. Secrets—November 2000  

Suggested Reading     

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Life on the farm with its hardships

    A wonderful story that could be believable because it is so well written and so true to life in that period of our history. The land meant so much to those early farmers. It was an intergal part of their whole being. The story follows three generations of the Starkweather family and Emma is the last of this family. You get a true sense of what the land meant to her and her feeling of sewardship toward that land. I especially liked the fact that she used her farm to teach school children about science and nature.

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  • Posted December 29, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A great story told with great writing...

    Many books have good stories, but they too often end up with the reader feeling that the story was better than what the writer did with it. Likewise, many really good writers unfortunately just don't have very good stories to tell. But Jerry Apps scores big time on both counts with Blue Shadows Farm. It's an exceptionally well-crafted tale, spread over three generations of the Starkweathers.

    From Silas Starkweather, a wounded Civil War soldier who homesteads the farm in rural central Wisconsin, through Emma, his grand-daughter who ushers in the 21st century, the book chronicles their trials and triumphs through their relationships with their neighbors and the land. But Blue Shadows Farm is not a straight linear account of their lives. Successive chapters go back and forth among all three generations, creating interconnected timelines.

    Apps' smooth narrative, vivid descriptions, and natural dialogue effectively weave the stories together into a large, coherent tapestry, covering a century-and-a-half of change on their farm and in the surrounding community. Each compact chapter is filled with a wealth of details about the era in which that chapter's specific events occur, providing you with a fine taste of the vintage realities of rural life during each period.

    It all comes together seamlessly and very effectively, including the mystery of an underlying theme that is an intriguing and satisfying part of the story. As you read and enjoy the literary pleasures of Blue Shadows Farm, it will inevitably expand your perspectives on how things were and how they are. You can't help but learn some significant things in this historical novel that's as much or more history as it is novel.

    With Blue Shadows Farm, Jerry Apps has penned another gem in his long line of superb books. This one gives irrefutable proof that his craftsmanship as a writer is outstanding and the tales he tells are truly good stories. Nowadays, that is a hard-to-find and much-to-be-treasured combination.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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