|image from LibraryThing|
Smiley follows Walter's family and life from 1920 until his death in 1953 chapter by chapter, season by season, year after year. Walter marries Rosanna and together they weather the fat years of the 20s and the con-summing drought of the 30s. They raise their children on the acres of the farm - working long hours and feeling incredible pride for their accomplishments. At least most of them.
I liked the format of this story. Each chapter was a new year. The chapters didn't necessarily follow the same character throughout - but they did follow the time chronologically. So we are able to watch as a family gets electricity or the first car. We experience the Depression in a very Iowa way - they didn't starve, but that is because they worked for every bite they got!
One of my pet peeves with farming books is the ridiculous rose-colored glasses that some writers use when they speak of farming. Smiley doesn't do that. It can be incredibly lonely and beyond difficult - like when Rosanna delivers her own baby by herself because she is not able to get to the field for any help.
It took me a while to get in to this book. I kept waiting for some big moment when luck would come in to play. The reality is that all farming is luck. All farmers know that - you have no control over the weather or the markets. You live on faith and luck and lots of work!
It was interesting to read about Iowa towns that I know...and the comparison between Iowa State and University of Iowa certainly rang true for me...you will have to read it to find out what I mean!