The End of Always: A Novel

The End of Always: A Novel

3.8 7
by Randi Davenport
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

A stunning debut novel, THE END OF ALWAYS tells the story of one young woman's struggle to rise above a vicious family legacy and take charge of her own life.

In 1907 Wisconsin, seventeen-year-old Marie Reehs is determined: she will not marry a violent man, as did her mother and grandmother before her. Day after day, Marie toils at the local laundry,

…  See more details below

Overview

A stunning debut novel, THE END OF ALWAYS tells the story of one young woman's struggle to rise above a vicious family legacy and take charge of her own life.

In 1907 Wisconsin, seventeen-year-old Marie Reehs is determined: she will not marry a violent man, as did her mother and grandmother before her. Day after day, Marie toils at the local laundry, watched by an older man who wants to claim her for his own. Night after night, she is haunted by the memory of her mother, who died in a mysterious accident to which her father was the only witness. She longs for an independent life, but her older sister wants nothing more than to maintain the family as it was, with its cruel rules and punishments. Her younger sister is too young to understand.

At first, it seems that Marie's passionate love affair with a charismatic young man will lead her to freedom. But she soon realizes that she too may have inherited the Reehs women's dark family curse.

Set in the lush woods and small towns of turn-of-the-century Wisconsin, and inspired by real events in the author's family history, THE END OF ALWAYS is a transcendent story of one woman's desperate efforts to escape a brutal heritage. Both enthralling and deeply lyrical, Randi Davenport's novel is also an intensely affecting testament to the power of determination and hope, and a gripping reminder of our nation's long love affair with violence.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
02/24/2014
In a first novel as lyrical as it is harrowing, Davenport (author of the memoir The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes) explores the darker side of the American dream and women’s exclusion from its freedoms. Marie Reehs, the child of German immigrants, comes of age in Waukesha, Wis., in the first decade of the 20th century. When she’s 17, Marie loses her mother to a gruesome injury; though the death is deemed an accident, awareness of her father’s violence make the naturally questioning, even visionary girl doubt that convenient explanation. Later, working grueling days as a laundress, Marie reencounters August Bethke, one of the passersby who helped bring her mother home as she was bleeding to death from a stab wound. Soon trysting with him in the woods at night, she finds herself in conflict with her family, her employer (who begins to make passes at her), her coworkers, and her fellow townspeople, who look down on her affair with August. Her elemental passion seems to promise a less constricted future, but Marie finds that neither her family’s painful legacy nor her own female vulnerability is easily escaped. Davenport shapes her story—drawn from her own family history—with scrupulous patience, deftly juxtaposing striking images of the Midwestern landscape with evocations of Marie’s vivid inner world. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
2014-03-20
Set in Waukesha, Wis., at the turn of the 20th century, this is a gritty yet hopeful tale about a young woman determined to escape her family's legacy of abuse. Seventeen-year-old Marie Reehs has grown up enthralled by the folklore of Rügen, Germany, her parents' birthplace, and its recurring theme: Although hope may end, hope will continue to survive. That hardly seems the case in their run-down home, where Herman Reehs returns each evening from his work at the local bar and lashes out at his wife and three daughters for any—or no—reason. Herman's abusive behavior is as much a part of the Reehs household as the air they breathe; and when strangers carry her mother's bloody and broken body into their home, and she dies, Marie knows that her father is responsible. Without her mother to protect her, Marie is sent to work at William Oliver's laundry, where she spends long hours trying to avoid the owner's bold advances. She's fallen in love with August Bethke, one of the men who carried her mother home after the beating, and is convinced he's a kind, gentle man who will never harm her. After they eventually marry, Marie notices signs that August might not be perfect after all, but she does what other women have done for years—ignores her instincts and then hides evidence of abuse from prying eyes. Like others before her, she's too ashamed to reach out for help. But before she ends up like her mother, strangers and a relative step in, and with their backing Marie decides she can no longer be a victim. Basing her story on true events, Davenport (The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes, 2010) employs court documents, oral histories and existing records to lend substance to a character who exemplifies the spirited determination of one young woman as she fights to overcome the belief that women are no more than chattel, to be treated as their menfolk see fit. It's an accurate commentary about the times that, sadly, may still apply behind the closed doors of many households today.
From the Publisher
"Extraordinary. A lament straight from the heart of young womanhood in early twentieth-century America. You can feel this story in your bones."—Amity Gaige, author of Schroder, O My Darling, and The Folded World

A "deeply affecting historical novel of a courageous young woman's struggle to survive in an overtly sexist time is both a sobering and stirring

tribute to determination."—Booklist

Library Journal
05/01/2014
Set in 1907 Wisconsin, Davenport's (The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes: A Mother's Story) fiction debut tells the story of Marie Reehs, a young woman raised in a violent home. She vows not to marry a man like her father, whom she believes killed her mother. To supplement the family income, Marie begins working long hours in a commercial laundry. Propositioned by her boss and desperate to escape her abusive father, Marie is drawn into a passionate relationship with the charming August, who proves to be as destructive as the father she left. This is a claustrophobic world where the lack of freedom allowed to women hangs over Marie and influences her choices, as well as those of her friends and sisters. VERDICT Evocative descriptions of the Wisconsin landscape and Marie's intensely felt first love serve as a balance to the harsh reality of her life. Despite the sympathetic portrayal of Marie, the detailed descriptions of family violence may upset some readers. A moving story with skillfully crafted characters, this book will appeal to those drawn to strong female characters, as well as readers of literary and American historical fiction.—Sarah Cohn, Manhattan Coll. Lib., Bronx, NY

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781455573073
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
05/06/2014
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
961,429
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Randi Davenport studied history and creative writing at William Smith College, where she received a BA, and earned an MA in creative writing/fiction and a PhD in literature at Syracuse University. She has taught or served in administrative positions at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The End of Always: A Novel 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately, I read quaintinns' REVIEW and don't feel a need to read the book as this review tells the story. I think this review should bear the heading in all caps & red letters SPOILER. I was interested in buying/reading the book until I read this condensed version. Please--if you plan to retell the story, be honest with the readers of your review & let us know that this will be a spoiler.
quaintinns More than 1 year ago
A deep and thought-provoking historical novel, THE END OF ALWAYS is about one young, sad, yet brave and courageous woman’s struggle to change her life, and break the cycle of family violence of men against women. Randi Davenport is a talented writer and gets into the mind of seventeen- year- old Marie, the main character, set in 1907 in the rural area of Wisconsin. There are many common threads when comparing 1907 to 2014, as violence still exists today in many families, with unhealthy learned behavior, continuing the vicious cycle. Sadly, may still apply behind the closed doors of many households today. Like Marie’s family—her dad was a very violent man, with cruel punishments, for the three daughters, even killing her mom. She vows she will never marry a violent man, as did her mother and her grandmother. She is continually haunted by the memory of her mother and longs for a better life, a more independent one without the abuse. However, her older sister (she totally frustrated me), feels the woman has to cater to the man's wishes, and ensure he does not get mad, doing whatever they want to make peace, as part of a duty as a wife, daughter, or mother. The punishments and abuse were horrific, and at times the audiobook was difficult to listen to, even though the narrator did an outstanding job depicting the moods and emotions of each character. Marie meets a charismatic young man, August, and is blown away by his affections and thinks this is her way out of her bad home situation. She falls in love very fast, and disregards the signs. She is convinced he's a kind, gentle man who will never harm her. After they eventually marry, Marie notices signs that August might not be perfect after all, but she does what other women have done for years—ignores her instincts and then hides evidence of abuse from prying eyes. Like others before her, she's too ashamed to reach out for help. But before she ends up like her mother, strangers and a relative step in, and with their backing Marie decides she can no longer be a victim. When she jumps out of one fire into another, a controlling and abusive man, who makes her quit her job and gives her no money for food. When she tries to get money for food from her sister (money she gave her sister), he beats her. Marie fells under August’s spell so easily. Marie changes drastically during second half of the novel, fighting for herself. Finally, this courageous young woman gets help from other nearby neighbors, and goes up against a man’s world with an attorney, to save herself and her future, with court battles which will try and tear down her self-esteem; the actions of officials all catering to the man. Which is worse, a husband or the father? This incredible journey to self-discovery and triumph was inspired by real events in the author’s family history as Davenport begins reading her great-grandmother’s court records, who also worked in a laundry. The author began thinking what it was like, and her great-grandmother’s dreams. As she began researching the family and the time period, she discovered the history of violence in her family. This related to the inspiration for the book as part of the American experience. A powerful story of a woman’s desperation and brave efforts to escape a brutal heritage, to end the family violence and help set a precedent for other woman in the future. An intense statement to the power of determination and hope for a better future.
Two2dogs More than 1 year ago
I am so glad I read this book again, I started it then lost interest then went back to the beginning and really enjoyed the story. Marie has got to be one of the bravest women or girl I know, I loved the history the Author put in the story, made the story more real to me. I strongly recommend this book.
cwtl2004 More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time putting the book down. It was different than what I thought but makes you think about how life was for woman back then. I found the dynamics between the sisters in the story interesting. It ended a little abruptly as would of liked to know more of her life after she was on her own and how she may have been recieved by the community.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't seem to find the words. I'm not a card carrying feminist. We. as women, owe our quality of life to those who came before us and paved the way. I simply cannot find the words! The book is heartbreaking. A well researched story of unthinkable abuse. Women wth no recourse for justice. A heroine who is so ccourageous for her time and situation it is a wonderful book. A must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good historical fiction. The book kept my attention, and I often did not want to put it down. I enjoyed this book!