by Sara Dahmen
GENRE: Women's Historical Pioneer Fiction
Boston widow Jane Weber moves to the Dakota Territories to save her respectability but finds her proper views challenged every step. Rooming with the last Blackfoot Sioux in Flats Junction and navigating a mercurial friendship with the fiercely independent town grocer leaves Jane reeling as she stumbles to understand the town folk and the unwritten rules of the west in 1881. Everyone has a story, including Jane herself and her unpredictable physician employer.
Suppose it is not real. I have not yet felt the quickening. It is early yet – too early to really discuss it. For this employer to know, when my lover had not and my husband could not, feels as if I am exposing my private bedroom to a stranger.
Terror shoots into me. I hadn’t wanted him to find out! Not so soon and not like this! Damn the Widow! I’d asked her not to speak! Now he will send me back home to be a widowed mother alone in the quietness of my parents’ house and the sharp stigma of the loose widow. No one back east will truly believe the child is Henry’s. They might think I went wild in the west.
No one knows me here. There is some safety in it, and I must convince him to let me stay. And I must tell him the same lie. There’s no other way. Everyone here in Flats Junction must think I was as married and settled as I say. And the Doctor too – what would he think having hired such a loose woman? The shame of my brief, quick desire for Theodore, and the self-loathing I carry rises up and tries to choke me. The Doctor walks away from me, fuming and vibrating with anger and I feel I must follow him to hear my fate.
My heart is beating slowly, pulsing with each step. Will I faint? Will I be able to hold my head to his and beg him? Can I spit out the story I’ve told myself so often that it almost feels true? And will he believe it?
I was immediately drawn into this story and remained in its thrall throughout the entire book. The heroine, Jane Weber, is a strong, plucky woman determined to make her escape from her straight-laced, judgmental peers and family in Boston. She accepts a house keeper position with a doctor in the Dakota Territories.
The descriptions of life and people in the small community sucked me into the era. The attitudes and behaviors of the townsfolk felt real to me. Some deeds or beliefs were mysterious, and it is only as the story continues to unfold that the reasons for the sometimes perplexing actions become known.
Certain prejudices and feelings are blatant within the Dakota Territories, while some biases are more veiled. There are expectations for living harmoniously. Jane and her employer are more tolerant than most but they still must tread carefully. Everyone one has their secrets, it seems. The book examines intolerance in its ugliness, but also reveals how sometimes even deeply ingrained bigotries can be modified over time.
I love to read clean stories of the American West that grab me and feel believable. This book did not disappoint in the least.
Reviewed by Laurie-J
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Sara Dahmen is a metalsmith of vintage and modern cookware and manufactures pure metal kitchenware in tin, copper and iron. She is the owner and operator of House Copper & Housekeeper Crockery: American-made cookware created with pure and/or organic materials featured in Food and Wine and Root + Bone magazines, among others. She has published over 100 articles as a contributing editor for Veil Magazine and writes for many book and review blogs. She has spoken at TEDx Rapid City in 2016, speaks across the country at multiple writer conferences such as the Writer’s Institute and RWA Nationals, and co-chairs the Port Washington Literary Festival since its inception in 2013. Prior to her writing gigs, Sara was a print, radio and TV producer before owning and operating a nationally award-winning event planning company for ten years. When not writing or sewing authentic clothing for 1830’s reenactments, she can be found hitting tin and copper at her apprenticeship with a master tinsmith, reading the Economist or hanging out with her husband and three young children.
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GIVEAWAYSara Dahmen will be awarding a set of American-made pure maple wooden spoons from the author's kitchenware line (www.housekeepercrockery), valued at $60 (international) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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