The Real Minerva

The Real Minerva

by Mary Sharratt
4.8 6

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Real Minerva 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this novel in a single afternoon, utterly paralyzed by the consuming story. It's a wonderfully satisfying novel, descriptively rich but spare of conventional sentiment whilst achieving a holistic view. If you liked Kent Haruf's 'Plainsong,' then you are certain to be mesmerized by Sharratt's 'The Real Minerva.' And, if you hated the Haruf, you still should read the Sharratt. Life in small-town in Minnesota was, of course, surfeit with gossip, hidden drama and repressed sensibilities. Sharratt's novel captures all of this but rather more in their grandure than their conventional tawdriness. Minerva is the most alive small town I know -- fictional or otherwise. The protagonists in this book will win your heart but not through cheap sentiment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ms. Sharratt, because of the time and setting of her novel, will be undoubtedly compared to Willa Cather, but she writes with a voice that is all her own. The sense of place is indelibly evocative, but it is the characters who grab the reader and won't let go. Suffice it to say that this is one new novel that is not to be missed.
ThunderGrammy More than 1 year ago
I was surprised as to how much I enjoyed this book. I'm not the most diligent of readers, but had a hard time putting this one down. I enjoyed it very much and recommend it.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Life in 1920's Minerva, Minnesota--the fictional town in which the action of Mary Sharratt's The Real Minerva unfolds--is hard on those who are not fortune's favorites. Teen-aged girls mooning over matinee idols turn quickly into hardened farm wives with work-ravaged hands and too many children. But more onerous than the simple demands of survival in a difficult environment are the constraints imposed by the small town's repressive society, whose members abhor and squelch diversity and police behavior with vicious gossip and shaming. The three women on whom Sharratt's quietly suspenseful novel focuses are each eager to be free of the confinements imposed on them from without, to shed their identities and become reborn, to have possibilities open before them. Of the three, former Chicago society matron Cora Egan has largely succeeded in shedding her past by the time the novel begins. Having fled, pregnant, from her abusive husband, Cora settled on her grandfather's farm, which she now operates by herself, doing men's work while dressed in men's clothing. Since she has elected to live outside the roles prescribed by society for women, Cora is despised and feared in Minerva--a situation which has the potential to make her life not only lonely but dangerous. Cora is joined on the farm eventually by fifteen-year-old Penny Niebeck, who is herself fleeing the shameful behavior of her mother--an affair with a married man--which threatens to render them both outcasts. Together Cora and Penny raise Cora's infant daughter, working hard but happily--an idyllic period that readers will constantly sense is threatened by the potential re-appearance of the baby's abusive father. Mary Sharratt's novel is about repression and rebirth and heroism, about the difficulty of simple living in early 20th-century, rural America, about the relationship between parents and children and the nearly insuperable obstacles that can rise up between people incapable of communicating. And it is about how a life's course can be altered irrevocably by a handful of choices. Despite the weight of the book's subject matter and the casual cruelty and violence it depicts (but does not wallow in), the story Sharratt tells is ultimately uplifting. Her heroines persevere and finally survive, scarred but strengthened by adversity, adopting in their different ways the strategies exemplified by the characters of Athena (whose Roman counterpart, Minerva, lends her name to the characters' home town) and Penelope in Homer's Odyssey. (Throughout much of The Real Minerva Penny is in the course of reading the epic, and Sharratt weaves the stories of Athena and Penelope lightly into her narrative. My one complaint about Sharratt's novel is that her Odyssean references sometimes struck me as forced.) The Real Minerva is a rich, beautifully written novel, and it is highly recommended.