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The Quickening

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3.29  ·  Rating Details ·  1,721 Ratings  ·  323 Reviews
Enidina 'Eddie' Current 30s and Mary Morrow 20s live on neighboring farms in the flat hard upper Midwest during the early 1900s. Hardscrabble life comes easily to some, like Eddie, who has never wanted more than the land she works and the animals she raises on it with her 8 years older husband, Frank. But deeply religious Mary wants finer things from life.
Paperback, 215 pages
Published 2010 by Other Press
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Vicki It was confusing in the beginning, but that's what kept me reading, to figure it out. In the end, it all became very clear.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
3.5 stars

This story is very sober. It could almost be a morality tale, teaching that if you willfully hurt others, you could end up losing what you hoped to keep for yourself.

The tale is told by two Midwestern farm wives of the early 20th century. Enidina and Mary are very different in temperament and beliefs, and they don't particularly like each other. One has healthy children and the other does not, which deepens the divide between them. But they live on neighboring farms, so they associate
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Julie
Jul 04, 2010 Julie rated it liked it
Recommended to Julie by: Indiebound.org
This is beautifully written, but so dark and full of despair that I couldn't wait for it to end so I could reenter the light of my clean and well-ordered life. That it took only a quiet morning to read is testament both to its gripping power and my determination to not linger in the dust and mud of Depression-era Iowa.

The words and scenes are powerfully rendered and unflinching in their depiction of the isolation and desperation of American farm life in the early years of the 20th century. But t
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Amy
Mar 08, 2010 Amy rated it it was amazing
I can usually tell within the first few pages whether or not I’ll love a book. With Michelle Hoover’s novel The Quickening, I knew from the first line. The voices of Enidina and Mary, two Iowa farmwives bound by their struggle to survive in the lonesome upper Midwest on the cusp of the Great Depression, are that real and charged with emotion. Right away, it was clear that I was in capable hands with this debut author.

Reading The Quickening, I was reminded of Willa Cather’s rugged depiction of 19
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Kerrie
Jul 23, 2011 Kerrie rated it did not like it
Bailed after 3 pages. A debut novel from a person who teaches writing at Boston U. and it shows. The voice is some hardscrabble farming woman in turn-of-the-century Iowa, so the style was conversational, but very dense and oh-so-clearly created and crafted. The setting/time period is interesting and why I picked it up in the first place, but I can't wade my way through that kind of prose as a casual read.
Sheila
Jul 16, 2011 Sheila rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sheila by: book launch
I picked this book up at a launch held in Cambridge in June 2010. I always want to support local artists. My expectations did not extend to the level that this book held. It is a fabulous read with a quick flow of words and an engrossing story. It is written from the point of view of two complex farmers' wives and their conflicting perspectives on the truth, with the hardships of farming, war, The Great Depression, and drought as a mere backdrop. There is some typical epic-like drama--secret aff ...more
Alison
Jul 14, 2010 Alison rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written, so well told. It's the story of two Iowa farm wives beginning in the early 1900s and then on through the Depression. The chapters alternate their two voices, as their shared story is revealed. The descriptions of farm life during the Depression are unbelievably real and evocative. There's a scene in which Enidina describes the work of slaughtering a hog--the mess, the stench, the hard work of it all--it was just beautifully written. But what made the novel great, at least fo ...more
Andi Newberry ~Tubbs
Aug 18, 2010 Andi Newberry ~Tubbs rated it it was amazing
WOW!!!! This is will be one of my top reads of 2010! This is an absolutely beautifully written book! It is about two completely different women living in on farms in the Midwest during the Depression. It has a dark Gothic feel, yet I was not depressed while I was reading it. These two women came to this area at the same time as brides, and their relationship happens over the course of events in their lives. Eddie was raised on a farm and is built for farming so farm life comes second hand to her ...more
MissSusie
Jun 27, 2010 MissSusie rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, lter
This not a happy book it is dark and thought provoking. It is beautifully written and almost has a gothic feel to it. It is set somewhere in the Midwest (I am from North Dakota so in my mind that is where this took place) and spans from 1913-1950 and tells the story of Enidina & Mary neighbors on the plains yet different in every way. I don’t think these women were ever friends. Enidina is a hardworking farmer‘s wife who grew up with brothers on her family farm so is no stranger to hard work ...more
Carol
Sep 10, 2010 Carol rated it really liked it
Hoover's tale of two women wrangling an existence out of the Iowa prairie in the years before the Depression is reminiscent of both Willa Cather and William Faulkner. I have been waiting for a writer to create fiction about Midwesterners that transfered Gothic themes from their usual perch in a rotting Southern house to a cabin on a windswept prairie. Hoover advances the pioneer tale genre with her unsparing descriptions of the tragedies and burdens of the women's lives. The men, one quiet, one ...more
McGuffy Morris
May 20, 2011 McGuffy Morris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The Quickening is a very special novel. Painfully told, it records the lives and friendship of two farm women in early 1900s Iowa. The chapters alternate between the voice of Enidina (Eddie) and Mary, who are very different women. Eddie is strong in body and spirit, made for country farm life. Mary is delicate and at odds with farming and the isolation of rural living.

They form a friendship, a bond born of necessity rather than choice. Through the years with its many life changes they remain loy
...more
Elaine
Aug 11, 2012 Elaine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebooks
I was swept along by Michelle Hoover's lyrical rendering of the hard lives of farmers in the first half of the 20th century.The beauty of the prose contrasts with the tale of heartbreak, deceit, loss and betrayals. I felt the tragedies as keenly as I would feel the sharpness of the knives that did such damage, physical and emotional.

The hardscrabble lives on Midwestern farms are vividly, but plainly told. The lives were never easy, but they became cruel during the Depression and the Dust Bowl.
...more
B.
Jun 07, 2010 B. rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
I was given an ARC of this book by the publisher, Other Press LLC.

I highly recommend this book for those who like literary fiction.

By the end of this novel I was simply captivated. Ms. Hoover is a wonderful storyteller and her characterizations are vivid and entirely believable. I could clearly see each of the women, their husbands and their children as if they were sitting with me while I read. Turning the pages, you feel the dreariness, desperation and deep isolation as the families struggle
...more
Jill
Jun 18, 2010 Jill rated it liked it
The Quickening, at its core, is about the intersecting lives of two women – the stoic and large-boned Edinina Current who grew up on the farm and knows the virtues of working hard, and her less adaptable neighbor Mary Morrow, who crumples under the isolation of the rural farmland.

One part literary, one part gothic, one part historical, it is, in essence, an exploration of a symbiotic relationship between mismatched women who have no choice but to cling to each other for companionship and surviva
...more
Lisa
Aug 07, 2010 Lisa rated it liked it
In our air-conditioned houses, with plumbing and electricity, in our cities with next-door neighbors and supermarkets and doctors, we tend to wax romantic about little houses on the prairie and life on the farm. “The Quickening” presents a much more realistic picture.
Inspired by her great-grandmother’s short written recollection of her life on an Iowa farm, Michelle Hoover has written a novel of the prairie, of farm life and the connection, for better or for worse, between two women.
The narratio
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Barb
Jun 10, 2010 Barb rated it really liked it
Enidina & Mary become neighbors and then friends. The book goes back and forth with Enidina talking and then Mary. I love books like this. This pair of friends probably wouldn't have been friends anywhere else but since they lived the closet to each other with no one else around they became friends out of neccessity. They needed each other in a sense. Then a tragic accident happens, maybe not such a accident, maybe someone meant for it to happen. This pits these two neighbors against each ot ...more
Sharon Bially
Jan 06, 2011 Sharon Bially rated it it was amazing
It's been over a decade since I've been so moved by a book and its writing. THE QUICKENING by Michelle Hoover deserves to be ranked with the world's finest literature. Its depth and resonance, concise yet powerful and poetic prose and level of insight and complexity have literally left me at a loss for words. I would urge serious readers (and writers) to read and re-read this beautiful story, to savor it, learn from it and spread the word about it. What a welcome, refreshing break from the comme ...more
Maxine
May 25, 2012 Maxine rated it it was amazing
I truly recommend this book. After previously slogging through a weighty book, this marvelous read was a breath of fresh air. I couldn't put it down and finished it in two days. It is a marvelous story about the relationship of two farm women, neighbors on the plains at the turn of the twentieth century. Michelle Hoover tells their stories in their own voices, alternating the time and points of view, and revealing life, sorrow, and expectations of settler women. I must say that I enjoyed this bo ...more
Rachel
May 13, 2015 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written. Powerful. This book will pull you in and won't let you go until the very last page - when you want more. Looking forward to her next books.
Eva
Jan 02, 2017 Eva rated it it was ok
I know I'm an outlier here, as many people seemed to really like this book. The description sounded like something just up my alley- Midwestern farmhouse Gothic, so to speak- but somehow it completely didn't work for me. If it weren't for the last few sections, I would probably have given it one star. I was so close to not finishing it, but that seemed like an inauspicious way to start my 2017 reading challenge. Plus, other reviewers kept promising the last 50 pages were really good. Relatively ...more
Dani Peloquin
Aug 22, 2011 Dani Peloquin rated it really liked it
Later this month, Michelle Hoover's The Quickening hits book racks and library carts and will hopefully will the praise from reviewers that it deserves! The basis of this book is easy to explain but its charm and beauty are extremely difficult to describe. All I can say, is that it reminded me of Willa Cather at her best but kept me on the edge of my seat. In just over 200 pages, I felt that there wasn't a single word wasted. The only advice I can give to you is: READ IT!

The novel starts in the
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Raquel
Feb 03, 2013 Raquel rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, february
Masterful. I read this literally in one day. It was that gripping and engaging. The story is tragic, heart-rending, and difficult.Two women live on neighboring farms on the remote plains of the Midwest in the early 1900s. They must rely on each other to survive the difficulties of Plains life. They reluctantly become friends as well as neighbors. Their lives intertwine more than they'd like, with tragic results. There's violence. A lot of it. And a lot of sadness. Don't read this if you're looki ...more
Nancy
Jul 08, 2011 Nancy rated it it was amazing
This is not going to be one of those books that you run to for an uplifting experience, Enidina (Eddie) Current and Mary Morrow are two very different women living quiet desperate lives from 1913 to 1950. Being farm wives and living far from town, they are the only neighbor that the other has and you could not find any two different people.

I found myself liking one character more than the other, not sure if that was the writer intention, but Eddie’s character was so much more for me then just a
...more
Jessica
Nov 16, 2011 Jessica rated it really liked it
The Quickening is a subdued story based on two women who live in Iowa in the early 1900s though the story actually takes us all the way through 1950. Mary is a proper housewife with spotless floors and shined silver and a yearning for something more. Her husband Jack is hard working and equally hot tempered. Mary's neighbor Enidina (Eddie) likes to get her hands dirty and works alongside her kind husband Frank as they tend to their fields and care for their animals. [return][return]From their fi ...more
Jack Ferris
May 08, 2013 Jack Ferris rated it it was amazing
This is the kind of novel that often says more in its chapter breaks than other novels say in an entire chapter.

The Midwest farmland that serves as its setting transforms almost immediately from being a beautiful, wide-open home to a stark, haunted, claustrophobic prison. The fields seem entirely too small to hold the personalities of the two women who serve as the book's narrators and protagonists, Enidina and Mary. Their loneliness and isolation, paradoxically, make the farmlands seem too crow
...more
Barbara Sissel
Sep 04, 2011 Barbara Sissel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of sharply-written and deeply layered historical, literary fiction


THE QUICKENING, Michelle Hoover’s sparkling, Depression-era, debut novel is a treasure on every level. The title is so well chosen in its promise of volatility; its suggestion of both peril and new life. Some kind of upheaval, the possibility of ruin. In the case of Enidina Current and Mary Morrow, the true peril that binds them is found in their silences, the things they don’t say, but only feel and think about one another. The women have little in common despite shared lives on neighboring har
...more
Holly Weiss
Michelle Hoover sat me at the kitchen tables of her characters in her stunning novel, The Quickening, and served me a slice of the human condition I will never forget.

Her book is a brutally honest narrative of Edwina Current and Mary Morrow, neighbors who are thrown together because of their need for companionship on the isolated Midwest plains in the early 20th century. In it we hear out-of-tune piano music in a tiny church; we smell the blood of the slaughtered sow; we feel the singe of a prai
...more
Jennifer
May 25, 2014 Jennifer rated it liked it
In listening to the recorded book, there were nuances in the main characters' relationship that I found compelling and may have been difficult to pick up when reading the printed book. I liked the fact that the relationship between Edie and Mary was awkward and strained and yet at times they relied on each other as friends would one another. Their lives and families were necessarily intertwined with the time and place in which they lived. The author told the story from the two main characters' d ...more
Felice
Jan 16, 2011 Felice rated it really liked it

The Quickening by Michelle Hoover is a prairie tale. It's 1913 and both Enidina Current and Mary Morrow are farmer's wives. Their places are adjacent and this rather than like minds makes them friends or rather friendly. Enidina and Mary are very different. Enidina is happy in her hard work life while Mary chafes under the yoke of the plow. Years go by, both families grow and more or less remain close. There are small betrayals and conflicts but proximity and loneliness has decreed that the Curr
...more
Ardene
Jul 28, 2010 Ardene rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, midwest, dcpl, women
The quickening is a first novel by Michelle Hoover. I hope there will be more to come. Set in a farm community in the Midwest during the first half of the 20th century, the tale is told in alternating chapters in the voices of two women, Eddie and Mary, who are each other's nearest neighbors. Friends? Mmmm . . . not so much. Spare and sere are the adjectives that come to mind.

I'm still thinking about this one, as the characters are about 10 years older than my grandparents, and it's hard for me
...more
Sheila
Jan 09, 2012 Sheila rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful lyrical novel of two women's lives on adjacent farms in Iowa from 1913 through 1950. Thrown together as neighbors in an environment so bleak and isolated, they come together of necessity but never become friends. One has been raised as a farmer's daughter and is in her element except for years of miscarriages before she delivers twins. The other, raised to want a better life, relentlessly works to order her home and children to her vision of perfection. In addition, she is ha ...more
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Michelle Hoover teaches writing at Brandeis University and Grub Street, where she leads the Novel Incubator program. She has been the Philip Roth Writer-in-Residence at Bucknell University, a MacDowell Fellow, and the 2005 winner of the PEN/New England Discovery Award for Fiction. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and published in Best New American Voices. Her debut novel, The Qui ...more
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