📚A Dual Timeline Story Set In #Idaho. Rosie’s #Bookreview of #HistoricalFiction The Meadowlark by B. C. Walker.

The MeadowlarkThe Meadowlark by B.C. Walker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

The Meadowlark is a dual timeline story set in Idaho.

The story begins in 1885 with Cassie’s family of homesteaders heading to Willow Creek —they intend to become farmers. The biggest challenge in the area is the water supply and much of the early parts of the story focus on the canal systems and irrigation channels that the first pioneers dug to water their crops.

In the modern-day timeline we are introduced to Emma who has a couple of mysteries to solve which led her to Willow Creek. Sadly Emma was my least favourite character; who she was and what she did in her life never felt real, so I was keen to return to the historical chapters that followed Cassie’s lifetime up until 1936, filled as they were with progress in the town of Willow Creek, including many of the technological improvements of the era and how they became part of everyday life.

This was an ambitious project for a debut novel. The early pioneers and the canal irrigation systems were well researched and were quite fascinating to read about, but it needed weaving into the story more artfully. I can see the amount of research and ideas that make up this story, but some areas need filtering. The story became swamped at times with detail that added little to the story lines. More time spent on character building and less on practical detail would have made the story far more compelling.

The book includes some maps and photos which added to the historical interest. My overall feeling about this book is that there is a good piece of history in there, but it needs the help of an experienced editor to lift the main characters so that they are equally as interesting as the irrigation project.

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Orange rose book description
Book description

In 1885, southeastern Idaho was the last part of the country to open for homesteading. Young Cassie Rapp arrives with her family to farm a country overrun by sagebrush and lacking water. With others they meet, they harness the mighty Snake River and turn 100,000 acres of barren earth into the rich farm community it is today.

Meanwhile, modern-day character Emma Rose, a notable speaker and business consultant, is trying to make sense of her recently deceased father’s request to be buried in a small Idaho town. Her journey of discovery begins from there.

The Meadowlark is a sweeping saga of generations of powerful women set against the building of the American West and a modern discovery of deep family roots. Rich in historical detail and human emotion, this is the story of the uphill struggles endured by the people settling this country and the pride, perseverance, and faith it takes to succeed then or now.

The Meadowlark offers the debut of a strong new writer. B.C. Walker combines a keen observer’s eye and the particularity of place to lay out a lush, large-scale, multi-generational story.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #LiteraryFiction #WomensFiction Bear Medicine by @gekretchmer

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Bear Medicine by G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

36440898

4 out of 5 stars

Bear Medicine tells two stories.  The first is that of Brooke, a middle class, marathon-running, oddly unworldly wife of a domineering Oregon politician, who, when taking some ‘time out’ from family life, gets mauled by a bear in Yellowstone National Park.  In alternating chapters we read about Anne, in 1877, a young wife of a domineering husband, who gets separated while on an adventure trek with him, again in Yellowstone.

Brooke and Anne’s stories run constantly parallel, and are connected.  Brooke goes to recuperate from her injuries nearby, cared for by a woman called Leila in a cosy log cabin; their lifestyle builds her confidence and makes her reluctant to return home.  Anne is saved by a young Native American woman, Maggie, who educates her about the reality of the evils done to her people by the White Man, builds her confidence, and makes her understand how badly she was treated by her husband.  Both women get early chances to return/be ‘rescued’, and reject them, though the differences in options for the women of the 19th and 21st centuries is more clearly marked later.

I found this book immensely readable, written with understanding of the author’s subjects, and well-placed wit.  Ms Kretchmer sets a scene perfectly, and both her narrative and dialogue flow so well.  The two women’s stories run side by side most comfortably, as the parallels and connections emerge.   All characters are clearly defined, and the pace is just right, with slower passages (inner dialogue/descriptive narrative) interspersed evenly with events to keep the reader turning the pages, and I loved the insights into Native American lifestyle; the reminder of their tragic history at the hands of the so-called civilised invaders was heartbreaking.

The theme is very much one of women standing together and overcoming male domination, and I think it would be of great interest to female readers who have felt oppressed by the men in their lives or by society as a whole.  I found this aspect of the novel a little dated, having been a reader of people like Erin Pizzey 20/30 years ago, but I understand that in Brooke’s world it was still very much an issue, and reading about Anne’s life was certainly enough to make me feel grateful I was born 80 years later!

I have one minor complaint, of a proofreading nature: the use of hyphens (-) instead of em dashes (—) throughout the book, which was an irritation; sometimes they were used to create both pauses and hyphenated words in the same sentence, which was very confusing (example: Shane-still on the dock-fiddled with his keys, wallet and phone-double-checking to be sure); as it was, I kept thinking random words had been hyphenated when they weren’t.  Publisher, sort out your proofreader!   On the whole, though, I’d definitely recommend this book, and I’d read more by this author.

Book description

When Brooke sets off on a trail in Yellowstone National Park to train for an upcoming marathon, she is savagely attacked by a grizzly bear. One hundred forty years earlier, Anne accompanies her husband on a camping trip in the nation’s first national park and awakens one morning to find he’s been captured by Nez Perce warriors. Both women encounter a sacred but savage landscape. Both fall under the care of American Indian women. Ultimately, Brooke and Anne must each overcome multiple obstacles, with the help of their new friends and native lore, to find what she seeks.

Alternating between contemporary and historical times, Bear Medicine is a story about women helping women in a complicated, male-dominated world.

About the author

G. Elizabeth Kretchmer holds an MFA in Writing from Pacific University. Her short story collection, Women on the Brink, and her debut novel, The Damnable Legacy, were both published by Booktrope Editions. Her short fiction, essays, and freelance work have appeared in The New York Times, High Desert Journal, Silk Road Review, SLAB, and other publications. When she’s not writing, she’s facilitating therapeutic and wellness writing workshops or spending time in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three sons, and Lani the Labradoodle.

G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

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