Ella Baron runs her Texas boarding house with the efficiency of a ship’s captain and the grace of a gentlewoman. She cooks, cleans, launders, and cares for her ten-year-old son, Solly, a sweet but challenging child whose busy behavior and failure to speak elicits undesired advice from others in town. Ella’s plate is full from sunup to sundown. When a room in her boarding house opens up, the respected town doctor brings Ella a new boarder―the handsome and gallant Mr. David Rainwater—but Ella is immediately resistant to opening up her home to this mysterious stranger.
Even with assurances that Mr. Rainwater is a man of impeccable character, a former cotton broker and a victim of the Great Depression, Ella stiffens at the thought of taking him in. Dr. Kincaid tells Ella in confidence that Mr. Rainwater won’t require the room for long: he is dying. Begrudgingly, Ella accepts Mr. Rainwater’s application to board, but she knows that something is happening; she is being swept along by an unusual series of events. Soon, this strong-minded, independent woman will realize that the living that she has eked out for herself in the small bubble of her town is about to change, whether she likes it or not...
Racial tensions, the financial strain of livelihoods in cotton drying up into dust, and the threat of political instability swirl together into a tornado on the horizon. One thing is certain: the winds of change are blowing all over Texas—and through the cracks in the life that Ella Barron has painstakingly built. This is the story of a woman who takes her life’s circumstances in both hands, but who will be forced to reckon with the chaos of her historical circumstances..
|Publisher:||Simon & Schuster|
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About the Author
Date of Birth:March 12, 1948
Place of Birth:Waco, Texas
Education:Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Texas Christian University, 2008
Read an Excerpt
When Ella Barron woke up that morning, she didn’t expect it to be a momentous day.
Her sleep hadn’t been interrupted by a subconscious premonition. There had been no change in the weather, no sudden shift in the atmosphere, no unusual sound to startle her awake.
As on most mornings, sleep released her gradually a half hour before daylight. She yawned and stretched, her feet seeking cool spots between the sheets. But catching another forty winks was out of the question. To indulge in such a luxury would never have crossed her mind. She had responsibilities, chores that couldn’t be shirked or even postponed. She lay in bed only long enough to remember what day of the week it was. Wash day.
She quickly made her bed, then checked on Solly, who was still deep in slumber.
She dressed with customary efficiency. With no time for vanity, she hastily twisted her long hair into a bun on the back of her head and secured it with pins, then left her bedroom and made her way to the kitchen, moving quietly so as not to awaken the others in the house.
This was the only time of day when the kitchen was quiet and cool. As the day progressed, heat was produced by the cookstove. Heat seeped in from outside through the screened door and the window above the sink. Even Ella’s own energy acted as a generator.
Proportionately with the thermometer, the noise level rose, so that by suppertime, the kitchen, which was the heart of the house, took on a pulsating life of its own and didn’t settle into cool repose until Ella extinguished the overhead light for the final time, most often hours after her boarders had retired.
This morning, she didn’t pause to enjoy either the relative coolness or the silence. Having put on her apron, she lit the oven, put the coffee on to brew, then mixed the biscuit dough. Margaret arrived right on time, and after removing her hat and hanging it on the peg inside the door, and gratefully taking a tin cup of sweetened coffee from Ella, she went back outside to fill the washing machine with water for the first load of laundry.
The prospect of buying an electric-powered washing machine was so remote that Ella didn’t even dream about it. For her foreseeable future she must continue using the one with the hand-crank wringer that had been her mother’s. Suds and rinse water from the tub were drained into a ditch that ran alongside the shed where the washer was housed.
On a summer day like today, the washing shed became stifling by midmorning. But wet laundry seemed heavier when one’s hands were raw and numb from cold during the winter months. In any season, laundry days were dreaded. By nightfall her back would be aching.
Solly, still in his pajamas, wandered into the kitchen while she was frying bacon.
Breakfast was served at eight.
By nine o’clock everyone had been fed, the dishes washed, dried, and put away. Ella set a pot of mustard greens on the stove to simmer all day, cooked a pan of Faultless starch, then, taking Solly with her, went outside to hang up the first basket of laundry that Margaret had washed, rinsed, and wrung out.
It was almost eleven o’clock when she went inside to check on things in the kitchen. While she was adding a little more salt to the greens, someone pulled the bell at her front door. As she walked along the dim center hall, she dried her hands on her apron and glanced at herself in the wall mirror. Her face was flushed and damp from the heat, and her heavy bun had defied the pins and slipped down onto her nape, but she continued to the door without stopping to primp.
On the other side of the threshold, squinting at her through the screened door, was Dr. Kincaid. “Morning, Mrs. Barron.” His white straw hat had a natty red cloth band, striated with generations of sweat stains. He removed it and held it against his chest in a rather courtly manner.
She was surprised to see the doctor on her porch, but still nothing signaled her that this would be an extraordinary day.
Dr. Kincaid’s office was in the center of town on Hill Street, but he also made house calls, usually to deliver a baby, sometimes to keep a contagious patient from spreading his infection through Gilead, their town of two thousand.
Ella herself had summoned the doctor to the house a couple of years ago when one of her boarders fell out of his bed during the middle of the night. Mr. Blackwell, an elderly gentleman who fortunately had been more embarrassed than injured, protested even as Dr. Kincaid agreed with Ella that he probably should be thoroughly examined just as a precaution. Mr. Blackwell no longer lived with her. Shortly after that incident, his family had moved him to a home for the elderly in Waco. Mr. Blackwell had futilely protested his involuntary relocation, too.
Had one of her boarders sent for the doctor today? Little in the house escaped Ella’s notice, but she’d been outside most of the morning, so it was possible that one of the sisters had used the telephone without her knowledge.
“Good morning, Dr. Kincaid. Did one of the Dunnes send for you?”
“No. I’m not here on a sick call.”
“Then what can I do for you?”
“Is this a bad time?”
She thought of the clothes piled into baskets and ready to be starched, but the starch needed a while longer to cool. “Not at all. Come in.” She reached up to unlatch the screened door and pushed it open.
Dr. Kincaid turned to his right and made a come-forward motion with his hat. Ella was unaware of the other man’s presence until he stepped around the large fern at the side of the front door and into her range of vision.
Her first impression of him was how tall and lean he was. One could almost say he looked underfed. He was dressed in a black suit with a white shirt and black necktie, and was holding a black felt fedora. She thought his clothes looked severe and out of season for such a hot morning, especially compared to Dr. Kincaid’s seersucker suit and white hat with the red band.
The doctor made the introduction. “Mrs. Barron, this is Mr. Rainwater.”
He inclined his head. “Ma’am.”
She moved aside and indicated for them to come inside. Dr. Kincaid allowed the other man to go in ahead of him. A few steps into the foyer, he stopped to let his eyes adjust to the relative darkness. Then he took in his surroundings as he idly threaded the brim of his hat through long, slender fingers.
“In here, please.” Ella stepped around her two guests and motioned them into the formal parlor. “Have a seat.”
“We thought we heard the doorbell.”
The chirping voice brought Ella around. The Misses Dunne, Violet and Pearl, were standing on the bottom stair. In their pastel print dresses and old-fashioned shoes, they were virtually interchangeable. Each had a nimbus of white hair. Their veined, spotted hands clutched matching handkerchiefs, daintily hemmed and hand-embroidered by their mother, they’d told Ella.
With unabashed curiosity, the two were looking beyond Ella to catch a glimpse of the visitors. Having callers was an event.
“Is that Dr. Kincaid?” asked Pearl, the more inquisitive of the two. “Hello, Dr. Kincaid,” she called.
“Good morning, Miss Pearl.”
“Who’s that with you?”
Miss Violet frowned at her sister with reproof. “We were coming down to play gin rummy until lunch,” she whispered to Ella. “Will we disturb?”
“Not at all.”
Ella asked them to use the informal parlor and led them to it. When they were situated at the card table, she said, “Please excuse us, ladies,” and pulled together the heavy oak pocket doors that divided the large room in half. She rejoined the two men in the formal side, which overlooked the front porch. Despite her invitation for them to sit down, they had remained standing.
Dr. Kincaid was fanning himself with his hat. Ella switched on the fan on the table in the corner, directed the stream of air toward him, then motioned the men toward a pair of wingback chairs. “Please.”
They sat when she did.
This being summer, and wash day, she hadn’t put on stockings that morning. Embarrassed by her bare legs, she crossed her ankles and pulled her feet beneath the chair. “Would you like some lemonade? Or tea?”
“That sounds awfully good, Mrs. Barron, but I’m afraid I have to pass,” the doctor said. “I’ve got patients to see at the clinic.”
She looked at Mr. Rainwater.
“No thank you,” he said.
Returning to the kitchen would have given her an opportunity to remove her apron, which had a damp patch where she’d dried her hands, and to pin her bun more securely. But since her guests had declined the offer of a drink, she was stuck looking untidy for the remainder of their visit, the purpose of which hadn’t yet been stated. She wondered what Solly was up to and how long this unexpected meeting was going to take. She hoped Mr. Rainwater wasn’t a salesman. She didn’t have time to sit through his pitch, only to say no to whatever it was he was peddling.
The smell of simmering mustard greens was strong, even here in the front parlor. The doctor withdrew a large white handkerchief from his coat pocket and used it to blot sweat from his balding head. A yellow jacket flew into the window screen and continued angrily to try to go through it. The hum of the electric fan seemed as loud as a buzz saw.
She was relieved when Dr. Kincaid cleared his throat and said, “I heard you lost a boarder.”
“That’s right. Mrs. Morton went to live with an ailing sister. Somewhere in eastern Louisiana, I believe.”
“Quite a piece from here,” he remarked.
“Her nephew came to escort her on the train.”
“Nice for her, I’m sure. Have you had anyone speak for her room?”
“She only left the day before yesterday. I haven’t had time to advertise.”
“Well then, that’s good, that’s good,” the doctor said and began fanning himself enthusiastically, as though in celebration of something.
Discerning now the purpose for their call, she looked at Mr. Rainwater. He sat leaning slightly forward with both feet on the floor. His black shoes were shined, she noticed. His thick, dark hair was smoothed back off his face, but one strand, as straight and shiny as a satin ribbon, had defiantly flopped over his broad forehead. His cheekbones were pronounced, his eyebrows as sleek and black as crows’ wings. He had startling blue eyes, and they were steady on her.
“Are you interested in lodging, Mr. Rainwater?”
“Yes. I need a place to stay.”
“I haven’t had a chance to give the vacant room a thorough cleaning, but as soon as it’s ready, I’d be happy to show it to you.”
“I’m not particular.” He smiled, showing teeth that were very white, although slightly crooked on the top. “I’ll take the room as is.”
“Oh, I’m afraid I couldn’t let you have it now,” she said quickly. “Not until I’ve aired the bedding, scrubbed everything, polished the floor. I have very high standards.”
“For boarders or cleanliness?”
“Which is why I’ve brought him to you,” the doctor said hastily. “I told Mr. Rainwater that you keep an immaculate house and run a tight ship. To say nothing of the excellent meals your boarders enjoy. He desires a place that’s well maintained. A peaceful and quiet house.”
Just then, from the direction of the kitchen, came a terrible racket followed by a bloodcurdling scream.
Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for Rainwater includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Ella Barron runs her Texas boardinghouse with an efficiency that ensures her life will be kept in perfect balance. When a new boarder moves in—the soft-spoken, insightful Mr. Rainwater—that careful balance is upset in ways that Ella could never have predicted. Faced with the challenges of rearing her autistic son alone and surviving the hardships imposed by economic crisis, the last thing Ella needs is an additional burden. But from Mr. Rainwater she learns a bittersweet truth—that love is worth whatever price one must pay for it.
1. What qualities does Ella Brown possess? What is her greatest strength? What is her greatest weakness? Which qualities are inherent and which do you attribute to her situation in life?
2. Rainwater is set in Depression-era Texas. What details does Brown use to create atmosphere? How does the setting affect the action of the story?
3. It’s clear from the beginning that Ella wants to prevent Solly’s odd behavior from being misunderstood and ridiculed, and to avoid a situation which would result in his being taken away from her and institutionalized. Why does Ella reject the advice of Dr. Kincaid and Mr. Rainwater? Is maternal love impeding her from making a decision.
4. Mr. Rainwater is an outsider, which automatically makes him an object of speculation and curiosity. Why does he want to keep his illness and his affluence a secret? What clues to both did you find? Did you have any unanswered questions about him?
5. The small-town grapevine plays a dramatic role in the story. Discuss the ways in which it was beneficial, and ways in which the effects of gossip were damaging. Would the story have unfolded differently had it been set in a larger city? How so?
6. The financial strain of the era influences the actions of the characters. How does Brown portray the dire straits of the poor? Did the kindness and charity of Ella, Margaret, and others surprise you?
7. The showdown between Conrad Ellis’s gang and the hungry mob is a pivotal scene. The actions and dialog of each character reveal much about that character. What is each party trying to protect or gain? Who is right and who is wrong?
8. Discuss how the relationship between Ella and Rainwater evolves from that of landlady and boarder into a loving one. How would you describe their relationship? Both of these characters are coping with a personal calamity—how does that influence their behavior toward each other? Would they have fallen in love had their circumstances not been as bleak?
9. What different kinds of prejudices did you find in the story and how were they expressed? Are there commonalities between the oppressed groups?
10. Describe the black community’s affection for Brother Calvin. What does he represent to them? Why is he so highly admired by people of both races?
11. Is Brother Calvin a hero? Is he a martyr? Are the qualities of a Depression-era hero different from a modern hero?
12. At the end of the novel, why does Mr. Rainwater take responsibility for Solly’s actions? Was he protecting Solly or punishing himself? Did his health or love for Ella factor into the decision? Is he a hero?
13. The novel is framed as a flashback. Did this add to the suspense?
14. Except for the prologue and epilogue, every scene is told from Ella’s point of view. Did you realize this as you were reading it? Did Brown do this intentionally? Why?
15. Do you see any parallels between the financial hardships then and those facing our nation now? How are they similar and how do they differ? In general, do people respond to differently now to setbacks than people who lived through the Great Depression did?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Explore the work of John Steinbeck—a novelist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his portrayal of the Dust Bowl, The Grapes of Wrath. Visit the website of the National Steinbeck Center: http://www.Steinbeck.org
2. In Rainwater, Sandra Brown describes the delicious Southern meals cooked by Ella Barron. Create your own inspired feast by searching “Southern Recipes” on http://www.foodnetwork.com. Try “Hattie’s Fried Chicken” http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/throwdown-with-bobby-flay/hatties-southern-fried-chicken-recipe/index.html with “Traditional Biscuits” on http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/traditional-southern-biscuits-recipe2/index.html
3. Learn more about Sandra Brown on her website: http://www.sandrabrown.net/
A Conversation with Sandra Brown
1. What was your inspiration for this novel?
A vivid memory of my father’s childhood occurred when he was about eight years old. His father, my grandfather, had a showdown with armed federal agents who arrived at his dairy farm demanding that he pour out milk he couldn’t sell because of an over-supplied market. My grandfather refused to waste good milk when so many families in the area were going hungry. Gun-toting relatives backed him up, and eventually the agents retreated. No shots were fired, but it was a tense situation that obviously made a lasting memory for my father. My grandfather continued giving away his surplus milk.
I also wanted to write about a fiercely independent and unhappy woman who is taught how to live by a man who is dying.
2. How was writing a historical novel different from the suspense novels you regularly write?
Writing Rainwater was a refreshing change of pace . . . a change of everything, in fact. Typically I have a fairly good grip on the plot of a suspense novel before I set about writing it. I must know beforehand how the mystery ultimately will be solved. With Rainwater, I began with Dr. Kincaid bringing David Rainwater to Ella’s door and then let the story unfold on its own.
3. How did your background as a Texan influence this novel?
Both sets of grandparents lived in the small Texas town that I used as my model for Gilead. When I was a little girl, it was a big treat to walk from their houses to “town” to get their mail from the post office or to pick up something from the grocery store, which was exactly like Mr. Randall’s. I was always fascinated by the stories my grandparents and parents told of surviving the Depression. For instance, my maternal grandfather worked on the Katy railroad. He made forty-eight dollars a month – and twelve of it paid the rent on the railroad-owned house in which the family lived. He supported a wife and five children on thirty-six dollars a month. Yet they were a happy, loving family. Those hard times didn’t make them bitter; it made them appreciative and strong.
4. Did you research the era before you set out writing? If so, what sources did you consult?
Yes, a lot of research was required, particularly into the various government programs – when they went into effect, when they were actively being carried out. The stories that were most wrenching were eyewitness accounts of livestock being shot, not just in Texas but in many plains states. Sometimes it was an entire herd; other times it was the family milk cow. People alive today remember how devastating it was to watch that heart-wrenching slaughter. I used the Internet for newspaper stories and tapped into various libraries to read journals and printed transcripts of interviews.
5. Did you feel a connection between yourself and Ella—as a woman or a mother?
As both. I fell as deeply in love with Rainwater as Ella did. As a mother, my heart ached for her. I could appreciate how terribly Solly’s rejection of her touch must have hurt. I get my feelings hurt when the kids don’t call! How horrible it must have been for Ella each time her son rebuffed her affections.
6. Have you had personal experience with prejudice? How did that affect your writing?
Again, I reference my grandfather, the railroad man. During the Depression, one of the men who worked on his crew, a black man, owed him some trifling debt. But he was unable to pay it. One day he came to my grandfather’s back door with a hen and offered it as payment. My grandfather said, “That’s a fine chicken, and I’ll accept it, but only if you bring it to me through the front door.” The lesson passed down from him through my mother was that everyone deserved to be treated with “front door” dignity.
7. What inspired your idea to make Solly an “idiot savant”?
This will sound strange, and probably a bit cheeky, but it wasn’t an idea that was inspired. That’s just what Solly was. I didn’t know it until he spilled the starch and had his violent fit. It was as surprising to me as it was to Rainwater, who witnessed his autistic behavior for the first time. Then, having researched autism and knowing how misunderstood it would have been during that time period, I realized how well it played into the story.
8. Did the current economic climate influence your novel at all?
That was rather a bizarre coincidence. I began writing Rainwater before the full impact of the recession had been felt, or even forecast.
9. Do you have any plans for another book? If so, what will it be about?
I’ve been requested to write another book in the vein of Rainwater. I’m seriously considering it. I’d very much like to if a story compels me the way this one did, and if the timing is right.
10. Your descriptions of Ella’s Southern cooking were so detailed—are you a cook yourself? If so, what are your favorite recipes?
I’m no cook, but I love to eat. Usually food tastes best when there isn’t a recipe, just a cook who knows what foods and seasonings go well together. I love the “country food” like I described in the book, because that’s what I grew up eating. Southern cooking isn’t healthy by today’s standards, but it’s delicious, mostly because of the liberal use of bacon grease for flavoring. And we put gravy on everything!
11. Solly’s brother refuses to sell his watch—a family heirloom from his father Mr. Rainwater. Are there any family relics or antiques that you hold onto?
My grandmother’s wedding ring, a solid gold band. Sacrificially, I think, my mother gave it to me. Whenever I wear it, I feel both of them with me.
I'm also pleased to share with you a new novel which has been a labor of love. It's touched me as no other story of my career has.
RAINWATER is based on a true story told to me by my late father who grew up during the Great Depression. One of his most vivid childhood memories was of a showdown between his father and armed federal agents who arrived at Grandpa's dairy farm demanding he pour out surplus milk rather than give it away to people in need...and in the ravaged cotton and cattle country of central Texas, there were many in need.
In my grandfather's opinion, the government program, designed to create a greater demand for milk and thereby drive up the price, was flawed if not downright lunatic, especially when the babies of so many friends, neighbors, and, indeed, perfect strangers, were going hungry. He refused to comply with the mandate and, backed by a few gun-toting relatives, ordered the agents off his property. The agents retreated without a shot being fired, and Grandpa continued giving away the surplus milk he couldn't sell.
This story fired my imagination, stayed with me, and eventually provided the background for RAINWATER. I hadn't planned to write an additional book. I didn't have time. But this story wouldn't let me rest. So after delivering the manuscript for SMOKE SCREEN in the spring of 2008, I gave myself two months to draft a story that was vitally different from my thrillers; a total departure from anything I'd written before. In short, I took a career gamble.
Throughout the year, whenever I had a spare week or two, I revisited RAINWATER because once I began committing it to paper, I was captivated by Rainwaterhimself, by Ella and Solly, by all the people who inhabited their tiny sphere. I missed their company when I wasn't in their midst. I became completely immersed in their strife and joys. Never did I work on RAINWATER, nor even think of it, that I wasn't brought to the point of tears.
From the day I conceived it, I felt this story was special, that although it takes place almost eighty years ago, its conflicts are timely today; its themes are timeless. My hope is that you, my loyal fans, and ultimately readers who aren't acquainted with my suspense novels will find this one as engaging, compelling, poignant, and meaningful as I have.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a story within a story with lots of challenges, from terminal illness to broken-heartedness, to autism, to poverty to disappointment to tragedy to courage to sacrifice to courage and all kinds of love. Brown did her research. She had the jargon down for the 1930's on and the way people thought back then, chilling racism, bigotry and such. Wonderful read! Other books I LOVED are THE HELP, EXPLOSION IN PARIS, SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME
Depression time in America. A young lady finds herself running a boarding house to makes ends meet when her worthless husband leaves. To complicate matters, she has a little boy with autisim. The side story of the civil rights issue raises its head, becomes a major problem in the little town. But a stranger comes to town, needing a place to stay while he dies. The local doctor, who is the only one to know the circumstances of David Rainwater, takes him to the boarding house. And this mysterious man bonds with the little boy, brings him out of his shell. And of course the friendship story which nearly becomes a love story can almost make you ache inside. This is a story that you will just enjoy reading, finding out that you like the people, care about the ending, wish Sandra Brown would write more like this. Actually, when I picked up the book, it was a mistake ... I read (and love) everything by Sandra Dalles, didn't notice it was "Brown" not "Dallas." When I went to get more by Sandra Brown, I found that most of her writing is not at all like this book. Bummer. I would love to put this on my permanent shelf of favorites, but I gave it away to someone who was in town at the moment. And I just knew she would love the story as much as I did. Very good read. (If you love this one, you'll also love Sandra Dallas and Lisa Wingate.)
RAINWATER was a gift for my birthday and even though I was busy with Christmas preparations I couldn't wait to get started on it. This one will inspire you and tug at your heart strings. It's bittersweet, but a feel-good read, heartwarming, and touching. It's set in 1934 Texas, the era of racial conflicts, depression, the down-trodden, and always the frustrating, unfair evil, that we have in every era. This is all about the fight for survival. "Hope" is the magic word that keeps the fight alive. Wonderful story!
Sandra Brown is simply a very gifted writer. Nothing else needs to be said. Buy this one, read it, love it, that's all.
I am an avid Sandra Brown fan. I own and have read most of her books. All I can say is that this is unlike any book she has ever written but I love it. It is a heartwarming, bittersweet story that will make you believe in the wonders of love in all aspects. The fascinating characters in 1934 Texas Come together in a way the reader might not expect. This is a wonderful, touching story, set during the depression giving the reader an accurate look at small town America, suffering through not only tough times financially but racially and what being a good neighbor and a good friend can bring you. Brown is an exceptional storyteller and a master with her dialogue. Her characters are very real and three dimensional, with their heartbreaking, yet hopeful story. Any lover of great literary fiction with a historical background will fall in love with Sandra Brown's "Rainwater". A must read! I recommend!
This is my first read Sandra Brown book. Rainwater is a perfect interpretation of the "best of love" and the "worst of hate". The characters are so vivid and alive! Great book! Looking forward to reading more from Sandra Brown.
Rainwater is a much different style of book than we are used to from Sandra Brown. We are used to crime, mystery, and detective, stories interlaced with love. Rainwater is a terrific book that takes us into a world about which Sandra Brown has wanted to write for years. I loved reading and thoroughly enjoying the story, the characters, and the actions of 1934 Texas with racial problems running high, education running low, and much inter-action between all the players. There is a romantic side of Rainwater also that brings some of the people together that the reader might not expect. Ella Barron runs a boardinghouse out of necessity to exist but she enjoys her routines and especially enjoys her seemingly mentally challenged son, Solly. Dr. Kincaid brought Mr. Rainwater to Ella requesting that she allow him to become a boarder. It so happened that a room was available so she took Mr. Rainwater in to join her other boarders all of who got along quite well. When Mr. Rainwater saw the things Solly was doing, he stepped in with Ella's approval and they discovered that Solly could do some amazing things with dominos, tooth picks, cards, and eventually more. He worked with Solly a lot. The racial relations of the time combined with shantytown where all the poor downtrodden lived, white and black, were an explosive issue with several in town continually bothering and outright hurting these people and any property they might have. The lack of rain and feed caused the cattle to starve. The federal government ruled that animals in that condition had to be killed and they were not allowed to be used for food, which was so much needed by the poor. When the town "bullies" came to drive the cattle into a deeply dug ditch, killed, and covered with lye so they could not be used for food, many battles and hard feelings ensued. Mr. Rainwater, even though in bad health, joined in the battle to save the cattle and allow them to be used for food. This describes the book pattern well and should entice you to purchase it and when you do don't expect to be able to put it down before finishing it. Thanks Sandra Brown. I could read more of this type stories from you. Yes, I enjoy all your other books as I think I have read all of them.
Rainwater is not what you'd expect from Sandra Brown in terms of genre, but it is what you'd expect in terms of context. Ms. Brown hits all the marks with this wonderful, touching story. Set during the depression she gives us an accurate look at small town America, suffering through not only tough times financially but racially and what being a good neighbor and good friend can bring you from those who don't share your views. She is an exceptional storyteller and a wizard with her dialogue that will have you feeling the dust settle in your lungs from the drought or see the despair of the citizens loosing everything they have and just trying to survive day to day. She re-created and brought to life for me the stories my Grandmother told me of the hardships of the people who lived through the great depression. Her characters are very real, three dimensional, heartbreaking and yet hopeful. The main characters of Solly, Ella and David Rainwater are amazing and will stay with you long after the final page has been turned. Any lover of great literary fiction will fall in love with Sandra Brown's Rainwater. Be prepared to be wowed by this incredible story, wonderful characters and amazing dialogue. It'll take you back and make you glad of how far we've come and yet make you hunger for the simpler times. A must read and a definite Best Seller.
This was simply a wonderful story to read. I wanted to hug Sandra Brown when I finished it. Not many stories are this moving. I couldn't wait to get my own copy to keep and to tell people about it. Thank you so much. This will make a lovely gift for someone special.
I LOVED THIS BOOK! Totally different from her usual fare, this book takes you to a boarding house during the depression. The characters are wonderful and realistic. The story is compelling. I wanted this book to go on and on. The landlady is a women who has run into hard times and must run this boarding house for a living. She has a black helper who is as much a friend as an employee. They can both teach us how to give back to the community even with the little that they have. The "new boarder" is the type of man you want your daughter to date even with his "difficulty". When I finished ths book, I just sat for a moment and petted it. It touched me that much. I hope that Mrs. Brown writes more of these kinds of books.
I am an avid Sandra Brown fan. I own and have read all her books; even the hard to find books first published in the 80's at various used bookstores around Arizona. All I can say is that this is unlike any book she has ever written and I love it. It's a heartwarming, bittersweet story that will make you believe in the wonders of love for the opposite sex and for a child.
So different from the typical Sandra Brown novel. This one reminded me of Dorothy Garlock's series of 1940's novels. I didn't want this one to end. Beautiful heartwarming story.
In 1934 in Gilead, Texas, after her husband deserted Ella Barron and their son Solly, she supports them by running a boardinghouse. Her ten year old child has issues that make him different and requires much attention from Ella. Although she is tired from all she must do to keep the place running and her son safe Ella believes it is worth it for her Solly. Ella agrees to take in a new boarder David Rainwater based on a recommendation from a friend she trusts. The quiet newcomer surprises her as he is more than just kind to Solly; he spends quality time with her son. Ella reluctantly becomes attracted to him and he is falling in love with his landlady and her child. However, when racial hatred led by affluent Conrad Ellis leads to violence aimed at Ella and Solly, David risks his life to protect those facing brutality. This is a deep Great Depression Era Texas thriller as poverty ignores race, ethnic background and gender, but people don't. Racism turns brutally ugly as Ellis and his followers are the law. Ella is a courageous individual while Solly steals hearts as the townsfolk see him as either pitiful or demonized, making him a perfect helpless target of Ellis. David will surprise readers as Solly gives him the inspiration to risk his life. Sandra Brown is at her best with this heart-wrenching one sitting Americana. Harriet Klausner
I really love reading Sandra Brown. I have enjoyed every book I have read from her. So I picked this one up thinking I couldnt go wrong. I was right! I loved this book. I was so different from her other books and I enjoyed it very much. It was a quick read and I truly enjoyed the story.
I loved Rainwater. I hated for the story to be over. It made me cry.
I read this in two days; could not put it down. It's the first I've read of Sandra Brown, but I'll be looking for her other books now. Very touching, sad but not too sad. It's a beautiful story with an amazing twist at the end. I don't like books that depress or upset me, and this book did neither, but it still managed to touch my heart. It's a terrific read; don't miss out on it. It's not a book I'll be forgetting about any time soon.
I could almost feel the dry heat of the drought and the tension in the little town as I read. Through the book I kept hoping that something would get through to Solly. It's written on the lines of "The Notebook" and other Sparks books, also made me think of "Bridges of Madison County." I didn't want the story to end!
For anyone who appreciates "light" historical fiction (not too heavy on the history), this is a wonderful book. It's a total departure for Sandra Brown, and what an amazing success it is! The chacters are beautifully developed, the plot moves along exceptionally well, and the dialogue is appropriate and believeable. I couldn't put it down!
My mother in law suggested this one to me saying it was different from what Sandra Brown usually writes. I loved this book! All I could think about the last hour of work was how I couldn't wait to get home and read more. I read somewhere that Sandra Brown wrote this in between writing two larger novels. I hope she writes something similar to it in the future.
Different from her usual topics, but very entertaing. A quick read not to put down until finished.
This is a "feel good" story with a bittersweet ending. A great read, a totally different romance story, but just as heart-warming.
This story is a prize, and such a surprise. While it is not your typical romance story, there is great love from many for a special needs child. The story is wonderful and tender, and takes us back to days gone by. I highly recommend it.
I fell in love with Mr. Rainwater! Good book! I enjoyed it.. but it seemed too short. I wanted at least 100 more pages!
I really enjoyed this book! It was a very good story!