Friday, May 7, 2010

A Lantern in Her Hand

A Lantern in Her Hand
by Bess Streeter Aldrich

Bess Streeter Aldrich's best known work is loosely based on the life of her own mother, but incorporates material from other sources as well. The overall optimistic tone of the book contrasts with the fact that many of the events described are rather dark. The main character, Abbie Deal, faces both external hardships and internal struggles as the book follows her from childhood through old age. Much of the book reads not so much like a novel as a précis of a novel. Whole years are summarized in a page or two, reflecting in a way Abbie's sense of time slipping away throughout her life. But Aldrich's strongest writing comes when she looks at an event in more detail; it is in these scenes, such as Abbie giving birth during the infamous blizzard of 1888, that the characters become more fully developed. Abbie's dreams of achieving great things are doomed to be unrealized in her own life, but ultimately find fulfillment in the accomplishments of her children for whom she sacrificed those dreams. The book thus becomes a celebration of the ordinary lives of the countless settlers who struggled to make a home in what was to them a new land. Readers who enjoyed Laura Ingalls Wilder's books when they were younger will probably find much to like in this book; both authors used many of the same or similar historical incidents in telling their stories, such as the "long winter" of 1880-81, and the plagues of crop-devouring grasshoppers in the 1870's. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Willa Cather and Laura Ingalls Wilder.] -- recommended by Peter J. - Virtual Services Department

[Click the title links above to see all available formats of this work.]

[ official Bess Streeter Aldrich Foundation web site ]

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