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While this book will appeal to fans of prairie or pioneer literature, it has depths that will actually appeal to almost anyone. Set in the early 1900s in small-town Nebraska, it follows the childhood and early womanhood of Laura Deal. Laura is the beloved granddaughter of Abby, the heroine of Aldrich's "A Lantern in Her Hand", and this book picks up right after Abby has died.
Laura is gentle and whimsical, and through her discerning eyes we get to view the other members of the family, many of whom are unintentionally humorous and certainly similar to those we know in real life. There is her practical, materialistic mother, about whom Laura one day thinks, "Mother has no poetry in her soul!" Her father John is quiet and hardworking, who carries some of the burdens of the town on his back but inside is afire with pioneer pride. Brother Wentworth dashes from one boyish pursuit to another. Her extended family, such as her flighty cousin Kathie, fussy Aunt Grace, and powerful Uncle Mack, are all interesting to read about. Outside of her family are several fascinating neighbors, including the attractive Alan and old Oscar, one of the town's founders, who lives in the past and can only find Laura to listen to tales of his glory days.
Although on the surface the story follows Laura's chronology in a fairly simple path, as she moves from school to college to a crisis of decision about how to proceed with her life, there are many other events, major and minor, occurring with everyone else in the story. There is her father's conflict with her uncle over bank monies lost, her cousin Kathie's gallivanting about rather than caring for her child, and old Christine's greediness for more land.
There are also lovely descriptions of the Nebraska countryside, and in the brief but beautiful details of life we get a sense of time and place. Having had a grandmother in Nebraska myself, it all felt so real to me when I read this wonderful book! I also felt breathless when it came time for Laura to decide if she would choose love or money, and the last sentence of the book is one of the best lines I've ever read. It should be quoted like Shakespeare. Quite simply, this is a book to cherish.
3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 16, 2014
Posted February 7, 2005
This book was my mom's when she was a girl and she gave it to me to read in high school, and I liked it very much. Now, seven years later, I picked it up to read to see if it still had the same magic..and it did! It's just a sweet, old-fashioned love story that's nice to pick up on a rainy day.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.