Charity

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Overview

Haunted by a secret sorrow, Augusta ("Gustie") Roemer comes to Charity, South Dakota, to escape the constraints of turn-of-the-century Philadelphia society. A school teacher, she gains only a tenuous acceptance as a newcomer. Her one friend in Charity, Lena Kaiser, is beset by problems of her own, not the least of which are a family murder and a hard-drinking husband who is accused of the crime. Unknown to even Lena is Gustie's friendship with two Indian women, Dorcas, a Dakotah medicine woman, and Jordis, the ...
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1997-05-05 Hardcover New 1997 FIRST EDITION (with all numbers). Pages lightly tanning/toning with age. Hardback w/ DJ. You are buying a Book in NEW condition with very light ... shelf wear. Read more Show Less

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New Ships From Canada. New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 320 p. Audience: General/trade. From Kirkus Reviews Poet Callen's first novel, set at the turn of ... the century, tells of the love and friendship between two women--a story that, for all its up-to-date politics, is really an old-fashioned celebration of its title virtue. Lena and Will Kaiser, longtime residents of Charity, South Dakota, have always stuck by each other, despite their childless marriage, Will's drinking problems, and his loutish, quarrelsome family. When a drunken Will is arrested after he is observed leaving the scene of his father's murder, no one believes that this peaceable man is actually the killer, but Lena lacks the money to hire a lawyer or post bail. Enter Gustie Roemer, a schoolteacher recently arrived from back east. Unbeknownst to the community, Gustie traveled to South Dakota with her ailing lover, Clare, who died shortly after arriving. Still mourning Clare, Gustie is tormented by ni. Read more Show Less

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1997 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 320 p. Audience: General/trade. From Kirkus Reviews Poet Callen's first novel, set at the turn of the ... century, tells of the love and friendship between two women--a story that, for all its up-to-date politics, is really an old-fashioned celebration of its title virtue. Lena and Will Kaiser, longtime residents of Charity, South Dakota, have always stuck by each other, despite their childless marriage, Will's drinking problems, and his loutish, quarrelsome family. When a drunken Will is arrested after he is observed leaving the scene of his father's murder, no one believes that this peaceable man is actually the killer, but Lena lacks the money to hire a lawyer or post bail. Enter Gustie Roemer, a schoolteacher recently arrived from back east. Unbeknownst to the community, Gustie traveled to South Dakota with her ailing lover, Clare, who died shortly after arriving. Still mourning Clare, Gustie is tormented by nightmares that are dispe Read more Show Less

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Charity

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Overview

Haunted by a secret sorrow, Augusta ("Gustie") Roemer comes to Charity, South Dakota, to escape the constraints of turn-of-the-century Philadelphia society. A school teacher, she gains only a tenuous acceptance as a newcomer. Her one friend in Charity, Lena Kaiser, is beset by problems of her own, not the least of which are a family murder and a hard-drinking husband who is accused of the crime. Unknown to even Lena is Gustie's friendship with two Indian women, Dorcas, a Dakotah medicine woman, and Jordis, the product of a white man's education and abuse. Gustie deepens her relationship with Jordis but remains an outsider on the reservation, uneasy in a world she can never fully comprehend. As Gustie and then Jordis become more entangled in Lena's quest for a killer, the ties that bind the three of them are tested to the limits of their endurance as they discover the horrors that lie just below the surface of this quiet, second-generation immigrant community, where past wounds threaten to erupt into fresh tragedy.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1899, Charity, S.D., is surely misnamed. The tight-knit farming community that serves as setting for Callen's first novel is really a hive of gossip, rumor and spite. Augusta "Gustie" Roemer, the town's unmarried schoolteacher, has a secret life that people sense without having concrete proof. Gustie's love for Jordis, a beautiful Sioux woman, complicates both their lives as they struggle to find a place for their relationship in their respective worlds. Meanwhile, Gustie's one staunch friend in town, Lena, endures the humiliation of her alcoholic husband's decline and ultimately his arrest for the unlikely murder of his own father. When an angry man comes looking for Gustie, demanding a legacy he claimed his deceased sister, once Gustie's lover, stole from him, Gustie stands her ground and discovers that her real defenders are Jordis's people, not the clucking white townspeople. A second murder occurs, and the three women join together to maintain their dignity and solve the crimes. With the exception of the Sioux chief, Little Bull, Callen's menfolk come across as clueless and abusive, in contrast to her well-drawn, strong and independent women. Rich with Sioux lore, Callen's debut is a refreshingly nontraditional western romance that puts a new spin on the old subject of a small-minded, turn-of-the-century prairie town. (May)
Library Journal
Late 19th-century Charity, South Dakota, says first-time novelist Callen, "was a stagnant pond. Gossip grew like scum on a slough." At the same time, "Live and Let Live" was the local motto. Clearly, the rural village depicted here is no Little House on the Prairie. Callen's re-creation highlights white prejudice against Native Americans as well as pervasive sexism and family violence. Woven in is a lesbian love story (between Easterner "Gustie Roemer," who is finally gaining acceptance, and the Native American Jordis), a series of grisly murders, and a lesson or two about the spirituality of indigenous people. Callen's progressive political agenda is matter-of-factly presented; nonetheless, her lyrical prose never sacrifices craft to ideology. Instead, Charity is a mystery so delicate it feels like a poem, so piercing in its depiction of small-town life that it leaves the reader startled by its straightforward insights. One closes the book renewed. A debut to be heralded, this is highly recommended.Eleanor J. Bader, New Sch. for Social Research, New York
Kirkus Reviews
Poet Callen's first novel, set at the turn of the century, tells of the love and friendship between two women—a story that, for all its up-to-date politics, is really an old-fashioned celebration of its title virtue.

Lena and Will Kaiser, longtime residents of Charity, South Dakota, have always stuck by each other, despite their childless marriage, Will's drinking problems, and his loutish, quarrelsome family. When a drunken Will is arrested after he is observed leaving the scene of his father's murder, no one believes that this peaceable man is actually the killer, but Lena lacks the money to hire a lawyer or post bail. Enter Gustie Roemer, a schoolteacher recently arrived from back east. Unbeknownst to the community, Gustie traveled to South Dakota with her ailing lover, Clare, who died shortly after arriving. Still mourning Clare, Gustie is tormented by nightmares that are dispelled only by hanging the dead woman's nightgown near her bed. Though preoccupied with her own sorrow, Gustie is moved to become the Kaisers' secret benefactor, using Clare's inheritance to buy Lena groceries and to get Will out of jail. Meanwhile, Gustie has become acquainted with Dorcas, an elderly Sioux woman, and her beautiful, troubled granddaughter Jordis, who still bears scars from the beatings white teachers gave her for youthful rebelliousness. Gustie's loyalties are torn as she and Jordis fall in love, despite Gustie's deepening friendship with Lena, who can't understand Gustie's closeness to Jordis and the Indian community. But as Kaiser family tensions unfold, Lena learns the virtues of tolerance and kindness, while Gustie finds the strength to confront her own past.

Despite a few excessively lyrical flourishes, an unusually satisfying tale, combining an engrossing mystery, a lovingly etched portrait of a community, and an appreciation for the moral resilience of strong women.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684829425
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 5/5/1997
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.78 (w) x 8.78 (h) x 1.12 (d)

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Average Rating 4.5
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    Kevin

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    Danni

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    Nicole and co.

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    Argo

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    Pruncesa Maria

    She starts dancing to "Evrything is Awesome". "Everything is awesome. Eveything is cool when you work on a team."

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