1934 ‘A striking picture of the hardships of that era’. @CathyRy reviews #HistoricalFiction The Unveiling Of Polly Forest by @CWhitneyAuthor @steffercat

Today’s team review is from Cathy. She blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading The Unveiling Of Polly Forrest by Charlotte Whitney

The Unveiling of Polly Forrest is set in Michigan in 1934 during the Great Depression and presents a striking picture of the hardships of that era. For the rural farming communities times were extremely tough. The prices for crops dropped so much that some farmers were left with no choice but to either sell up or lose their farms to foreclosure. There were no luxuries like indoor plumbing, extra money for clothes or anything but the most basic foods.

Polly lives with her husband, Sam, on the farm next to that of her sister, Sarah and brother-in-law, Reverend Wesley Johnson. Polly is young, pretty and immature, preoccupied with her own situation and not at all cut out out to be a farmer’s wife. She’s only been married a short time and the considerate and agreeable man she fell in love with has been replaced by a controlling bully. When her husband is killed in a freak accident Polly is at her sister’s house but that fact doesn’t seem to exclude her from suspicion due to the nature of the death.

‘The elephant in the room, of course, was that everyone in the congregation had seen Polly’s bruises and heard her story about falling off the hay wagon when she broke her ribs. I was sure it remained the main topic of conversation. Maybe Samuel Forrest was a cruel husband, but Polly, “Pushy Polly,” as Sarah had often nicknamed her, should not have rolled over and succumbed to his beatings, if that, indeed, had happened. Sarah and I had always been next door. She could have come to us for refuge at any time, day or night.’

The story is narrated from alternating first person perspectives — Polly, Sarah and Wesley, all flawed, well defined and complex. This drives the story and shows the individual points of view as events unfold. The investigation into Sam’s death begins to uncover much more that expected and puts the family in danger.

Sarah and Polly’s relationship is strained at times, more so from Sarah who had been, and perhaps still was, a little jealous of Polly. Both have their own differing versions of their childhood, but it was good to see the development of their characters as the story progresses. The twisty plot kept my interest throughout, it’s entertaining, sad in parts and the historical aspect is very informative — not only about the plight of the farmers but things like telephones with party lines and how people could listen in to everyone else’s phone calls.

There’s drama, heartbreak and several serious issues covered, and even if I didn’t quite see what Wesley’s fall from grace added to the story, I enjoyed it very much.

Desc 1

– Rural Michigan, 1934

When her new husband Sam perishes in a bizarre farm accident, would-be milliner Polly soon becomes the prime suspect in his murder. As she digs for evidence to clear her name, Polly falls into a sinister web implicating her in a nefarious crime ring being investigated by White House Police. Polly’s life and those of her family are at stake.

Narrated by Polly, her self-righteous older sister, Sarah, and Sarah’s well-meaning, but flawed husband Wesley, a Methodist minister, the story follows several twists through the landscape of the rural Midwest.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #HistoricalFiction Lilacs In The Dust Bowl by @DianaStevan

Lilacs in the Dust BowlLilacs in the Dust Bowl by Diana Stevan

4 stars

Lilacs In The Dust Bowl is historical fiction set in Canada and begins in 1929. It follows Lukia Mazurets and her family who leave their home in the Ukraine and immigrate to Canada. The Canadian authorities have offered farmland at a fraction of the cost of land at home and thousands are flocking there.

However, once Lukia and her family arrive in Winnipeg, all the good land has already been bought. They face extreme cold each winter, summers which stretch to drought, terrible dust storms, grasshopper plagues and near starvation especially when the grain prices plummet as Canada goes into its Depression years.

The book covers around eight years of Lukia’s life; she is fifty-four when she leaves the Ukraine and the book ends with her reflections, then aged sixty-two. This book is the sequel to Sunflowers Under Fire, which I haven’t read, and I was interested to read in the author’s notes that Lukia was the author’s grandmother.

It was quite humbling to read how the family survived. The author’s research into the Depression years shone through with details from the era, but on occasions I felt that some of the story was written so that historical facts could be added, rather than them complimenting the narrative.

As a dedication to the author’s relatives, this book worked well; as an engaging piece of fiction, it was okay, but I struggled to engage with the characters as much as I had hoped and I kept comparing the story to similar ones I’ve read.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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A family saga, set during the Great Depression, when hope and opportunity clashed for all who tried to make a living off the land.

Based on the true story of her grandmother’s trials, Diana Stevan continues the amazing tale of Lukia, a woman who showed—no matter what life threw her—where there’s a will, there’s a way.

When Lukia Mazurets, a Ukrainian peasant farmer, and her family immigrate to Canada in 1929, she has no idea the stock market is about to crash and throw the world into a deep depression. For the next seven years, she and her children will be tested not only by life as immigrants in a strange country but also by the ravages of nature. The threat to family security will also come from her rebellious son, her willful daughter, her arrogant brother, and the married son she’s come to rely on. And to add to the turbulence in her home, she’ll be romanced, awakening desire she thought was long gone.

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