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The Wedding Dress: Stories from the Dakota Plains

Overview

These finely wrought stories unfold in the Dakotas during the struggling pioneer days and bone-dry landscape of the thirties as well as the verdant years that followed, where the nighttime plains are bathed by softly radiant harvest moons shining down from dazzling northern skies. Young's absorbing narratives begin with the pleasant sense of "Once upon a time..." anticipation, but the firmly sketched details, warm humor, and vivid characterizations reveal an unanticipated and satisfying realism. The haunting ...
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Overview

These finely wrought stories unfold in the Dakotas during the struggling pioneer days and bone-dry landscape of the thirties as well as the verdant years that followed, where the nighttime plains are bathed by softly radiant harvest moons shining down from dazzling northern skies. Young's absorbing narratives begin with the pleasant sense of "Once upon a time..." anticipation, but the firmly sketched details, warm humor, and vivid characterizations reveal an unanticipated and satisfying realism. The haunting title story is about a beautiful and tragic pioneer woman and her wedding dress; her gown takes on a life of its own and turns into an enduring symbol for the grace and compassion of homesteading women on the plains. In "Bank Night," a hired hand working during the midst of the Depression wins $250 at the movies, careening him into a single night of notoriety that becomes a legend in its time. "The Nights of Ragna Rundhaug" tells the tale of a woman who wants only to be left alone with her white dog Vittehund and her crocheting but instead is propelled into a life of midwifery "because there was no one else to do it." The babies have a predilection for arriving during blizzards and always at night, when she must be transported across the dark plains by frantic husbands who have fortified themselves with strong drink and headstrong horses. All the stories in The Wedding Dress are linked by the enigmatic Nordic characters who people them and by the skill with which Young draws them. Emotions run so deep that they are seldom able to surface; when they do the interaction is extraordinarily luminous, both for the characters themselves and for the fortunate reader. The Wedding Dress is for all readers, young and old.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The seven tales in Young's winning fiction debut transport readers to the North Dakota plains in the first half of this century to tell of the mostly Norwegian immigrants who homesteaded there. Morals are clearly defined, and the Dust Bowl is remembered with trepidation. Young ( Nothing to Do but Stay: My Pioneer Mother ) emphasizes relationships among the characters; slight or profound, friendly or embittered, these connections take on the utmost importance in the small community of Little Butte. A man is shot for dating two barmaids in a single evening (``Bank Night''); a woman becomes a midwife by default (``The Nights of Ragna Rundhaug''); two brothers must marry two sisters after they keep them out all night (``The Sins of the Fathers''). In the title story, a wedding dress is lent to many brides over the years until its owner, who never wore it in life, wears it in death. The leisurely narratives match the pace of the subjects' lives, and the author's warm, straightforwardly charming style falls within a classic storytelling tradition. (Aug.)
Library Journal
This collection of seven outstanding short stories deserves a wide audience. Set in the Dakota Plains of the 1930s, they map the emotional lives and day-to-day struggles of the Norwegian American settlers of that harsh land. Rural in subject matter, yet warm, compassionate, and timeless in theme, Young's stories capture the slow unfolding of the seasons: seasons of marrying, childbearing, romance, unrequited love, and unexpected turns of fate and the human heart. These tales are subtle, powerful, and totally readable. There is no moralizing or dull preaching here--just wonderful fiction, luminous and life giving. Young's 1991 collection of personal essays Nothing To Do but Stay (Univ. of Iowa Pr., 1991) was named a Best Book of 1991 by School Library Journal ; this volume, aimed at adults, should be in the running for 1992. Highly recommended.--Linda L. Rome, Middlefield P.L., Ohio
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786202522
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 7/31/1994
  • Series: Bur Oak Original Ser.
  • Pages: 198
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.79 (h) x 0.75 (d)

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