June 16, 2016

Looking Back - A Lantern in Her Hand

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich
1994 Bison Books/University of Nebraska Press
(Originally published in 1928)
Finished on June 25, 1996
Rating: 4.5/5 (Terrific!)

Publisher's Blurb:

First published in 1928, A Lantern in Her Hand has outlasted literary fashions to touch generations of readers.

In this classic story of a pioneer woman, Bess Streeter Aldrich modeled protagonist Abbie Deal on her own mother, who in 1854 had traveled by covered wagon to the Midwest.

In A Lantern in Her Hand, Abbie accompanies her family to the soon-to-be-state of Nebraska. There, in 1865, she marries and settles into her own sod house. The novel describes Abbie's years of child-raising, of making a frontier home able to withstand every adversity. A disciplined writer knowledgeable about true stories of pioneer days in Nebraska, Bess Streeter Aldrich conveys the strength of everyday things, the surprise of familiar faces, and the look of the unspoiled landscape during different seasons. Refusing to be broken by hard experience, Abbie sets a joyful example for her family--and for her readers.

My Original Notes (1996):

Wonderful! I loved this heartwarming novel and got very choked up as I read the last chapter. Such fun to read about Lincoln and Omaha! Aldrich's descriptions of the weather and vegetation are so true and familiar. I could relate so much! What a terribly difficult life the pioneers lived through (or didn't!): Sod homes, winter & summer elements, grasshoppers, childbirth and illnesses, etc. Abbie Deal made me think of my grandmother for some reason, especially in her later years, when her children were grown. I highly recommend this book and plan to read more by Aldrich!

My Current Thoughts:

I was so surprised to see that I didn't mark any passages when I read this back in 1996. I know it was such an interesting novel to read as a newcomer to Nebraska, especially since I don't remember reading any novels set in San Diego while I was living there. It's always fun to recognize specific locations and landmarks when they're mentioned in a book and I felt the same way after reading Willa Cather's marvelous novel, My Antonia.

I went on to read the sequel to this book (A White Bird Flying), but don't recall how I liked it. I'm sure I'll come across my journal entry for it in the coming months. I do look forward to re-reading A Lantern in Her Hand sometime in the future. I wonder if it will have the same impact on me now that I've lived in Nebraska for 20 years.

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