Monday, November 28, 2011

The Personal History of Rachel DuPree - Ann Weisgarber - Review AND Giveaway

I broke my own rule while reading The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber - I flipped forward and read ahead. And then went back to slowly enjoy the story of Rachel DuPree. I became so invested in her trials and tribulations that I had to know what was going to happen next.

It's 1917 and a terrible drought has struck the Badlands in South Dakota. Rachel DuPree, her husband Isaac and their children are struggling to survive this latest hardship. For Isaac, there is no question - he will prevail. His goal has been the land all along and he will not give up. But Rachel is struggling. She's given birth to seven children, lost two and has another on the way. When Isaac lowers one of her girls down the well to get what little water remains, it seems to be a breaking point. Rachel questions her life, what is best for her children and her relationship with the man who is her husband.

In flashbacks we learn how Isaac and Rachel came to be homesteaders in this brutal environment. Rachel is a cook in a boarding house. While she believes she is in love with the dashing son of the owner, Isaac sees it as a business proposition - Rachel can apply for another 160 acres of land from the Homestead Act.

"I stared until my eyes blurred. It was so big. All that land and sky, all that openness; there was no end to any of it. It made me feel small. It gave me a bad feeling. I didn't belong; this place called for bigger things than me."

Weisgarber has written a story rich with emotion, detail and history. Relationships are explored - that of Rachel and her husband, the sense of belonging and homesickness. The history of settlers in this area has been explored, but not really from the point of view of black settlers. Rachel faces predjudice from many sides - that of 'upper class' blacks, whites and the native Americans as well. Isaac's view of the natives was an eye opener - he bristles at his treatment at the hand of whites, yet considers himself above the natives. I really enjoyed the physical details of everyday life and what it took to stake a claim - the dreams, the hopes and the aspirations. The setting is a character in the book as well, the wind, the dust and the grit almost tangible in Weisgarber's descriptions.

I think I enjoyed this book so much as the character of Rachel reminded me of Addy Shadd, the protagonist in one of my favourite books - Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens. The strength it takes to move continually forward despite unforgiving odds. The pleasure of finding joy amongst the troubles. The courage to make difficult decisions. And the determination to keep going.

As Rachel says: "I admired the feel of a book. I opened the book and held it to each girl's nose. I alwasy believed that smelling the pages of a book took a person into the story." I lost myself in Rachel's story. Read an excerpt.

The Personal History of Rachel DuPree would make for a fantastic book club selection. Check out what other bloggers on the TLC tour thought. And thanks to the publisher Penguin Books, I have a copy to giveaway. Open to US and Canada, ends Dec. 18. Simply comment to be entered.

23 comments:

mariag said...

Sounds like great read.
Thanks for the giveaway.

fmlj94(at)yahoo(dot)com

Linda said...

I remember driving through the Badlands of S. Dakota several years ago. Cannot imagine life there as a pioneer. Thanks for the giveaway.
lcbrower40(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

Thanks for this memorable book. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

A novel which sounds fascinating and unique. Many thanks. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

Margaret said...

This would be a great red! Thanks!

Margaret
singitm@hotmial.com

bermudaonion said...

That must be some book if it made you break your rule about flipping ahead! Awesome review!

Anonymous said...

I would love to read this book!
Thanks for the opportunity.
God bless,
Helen(grammea)
grammea22@verizon.net

AmandaSue said...

I'd love a chance to read this book.

unforgetable_dreamer_always (at) hotmail (dot) com

Real Life Deals said...

I have the same rule- I never jump to the end but I've sure been tempted a few times lol..... Thanks for the offer!

btw - I have a book givewaway linky as well: http://hobbiesonabudget.com/book-giveaway-link-up/

Nancye said...

This sounds like a great book! Thanks for the chance.

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

LisaMM said...

Every review I read of this book makes me want to read it even more. I can't believe you read ahead!! No matter how much I want to know what's next, I force myself to wait (although sometimes I skim a bit in my haste to get to the next part). Thank you so much for the great review and for being on the tour.

Cindi said...

If I was forced to pick just one genre I could read for the rest of time, it would be historical fiction. This sounds like I book I MUST read.

Kat Bryan said...

I love a book that can take you into the story and this sounds like just that.

winterset AT peoplepc.com

Tamye said...

Sounds like an amazing book, Luanne. Please enter me into the giveaway.

Tamye
tamyemachina@primus.ca

Chinyere said...

This book sounds like a great read. Please enter my name.

ezinwanyi1@yahoo.com

Gwendolyn B. said...

I really like these kinds of stories - people settling new areas and overcoming extreme obstacles. And I have RUSH HOME ROAD on my shelves to read - I'll have to pull it out and make it a priority! Thanks for your review and for hosting a giveaway, too.

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Ann Weisgarber said...

Thank you for this terrific review. You made my day shine.

I know what you mean about skipping to the end. I do that all of the time but I play a trick on myself. I say that I'm looking at the page count. Instead, I'm reading the last paragraph.

Soozle said...

Thanks for the giveaway! The books sounds like a very interesting read!
sbabij2 at shaw dot ca

Lukey Here said...

Sounds like another good one. I really enjoyed The Girls by Lori Lansens, so I think this one is definitely for me.

teresa[dot]lukey73[at]gmail[dot]com

Kelly Grant said...

This sounds like a great read

Susan said...

I love books about women struggling with whatever life throws them. I'm sure I'd enjoy this story.

Nancye said...

I would love to win a copy of this book! Thanks for the chance!!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Anonymous said...

I love to read about the trials suffered by those who came before us.
Skfurlotte@gmail.com