February 9, 2017

Looking Back - Second Hoeing

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.

Second Hoeing by Hope Williams Sykes
1982 University of Nebraska Press (first published in 1935)
Finished on March 1, 1997
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

"Papa’ll work her till she drops in the field!" The backbreaking labor of German-Russian immigrants in the sugar beet fields of Colorado is described with acute perception in Hope Sykes's Second Hoeing. First published in 1935, the novel was greeted in all quarters as an impressive and authoritative evocation of these recent immigrants and their struggle to realize the promise of their chosen country.

My Original Notes (1997):

Very good, yet depressing and bleak. Somewhat predictable. Not a great artistic author, although a gripping story. Good look at German-Russian history in Colorado.

My Current Thoughts:

I only have a vague recollection of this book, but I do remember comparing it to My Antonia, feeling a little less impressed than I had been with Willa Cather's prose. Cather's novels are full of beautiful images and Sykes' novel, while informative and gripping, didn't evoke the same sense of creative drama as Cather's. I no longer own the book and have no inclination to read it again.


  1. It does sound very bleak but I imagine it's pretty accurate for that time and place.

    1. Kathy, it is a bleak book, but I feel like I learned a lot.


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