The Quickening
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The Quickening

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3.24 of 5 stars 3.24  ·  rating details  ·  1,147 ratings  ·  274 reviews
A July 2010 Indie Next Pick

Enidina Current and Mary Morrow live on neighboring farms in the flat, hard country of the upper Midwest during the early 1900s. This 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 husband, Frank. But for the deeply religious Mary, farming is an awkwa...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published June 29th 2010 by Other Press (first published January 1st 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,151)
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Jeanette
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...more
Kerrie
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.
Amy
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...more
Julie
Jul 18, 2010 Julie rated it 3 of 5 stars
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...more
Alison
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
MissSusie
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
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
Sheila
Jul 16, 2011 Sheila rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Andi Newberry ~Tubbs
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
Beth
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
Lisa
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...more
McGuffy Morris
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
Jill
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
Elaine
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
Maxine
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
Nancy
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
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
Felice

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
Barb
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
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
Sheila
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
Barbara Sissel
Sep 04, 2011 Barbara Sissel rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Dani Peloquin
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...more
Ardene
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
Don Mitchell
Sep 05, 2010 Don Mitchell rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Don by: Michelle Hoover
A powerful, lovely book. A paean full of regret, awkwardness, fear, and lack of self confidence. I see my own awkward self-destructiveness in the hurtful acts of the protagonists. I see my own foolishness in their inability to communicate their regrets. I feel the heart string tugs in their losses.

A visceral sense-oriented book full of organic smells, tastes, and textures such as dust coating skin, tongues, and eyes--sometimes overwhelmingly so. These descriptions immerse the reader especially w...more
Jack Ferris
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
Raquel
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
Colleen Oakes
There is some beautiful imagery in this book about two women who live on neighboring farms in the 1910's, but the imagery and the prose sometimes takes over good sense. At times a searing, honest looking at farming, the great depression and the vein that runs between any and all women, it had it's good moments. But I hate when a book is so vague, wordy and fluttery that you aren't actually really sure what happened. The author wants you to use her endless vague imagery "The moon fell on our fami...more
Tonya
Jan 25, 2012 Tonya rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Tonya by: Kindle Search
Shelves: 2012, own-kindle, reviewed
The Quickening is unlike any book that I would normally choose to read, with the exception that it's told from the point of view of woman...two, in fact. I received a Kindle this past Christmas and found the book when I was searching for inexpensive books. I believe it was a couple of dollars. There was something about the description that interested me. I figured if it didn't grab me within the first few pages I wasn't out much.

I was pleasantly surprised to be drawn into the lives of Edidina a...more
Kristen
The Quickening was a fast and engrossing read. I read about half the first night and felt completely immersed in farm life on the prairie in the olden days. I have to admit it seemed more like the early 1800s than the early 1900s, except for the few references to other people's cars. But I guess things probably didn't change all that much in really rural farm areas over that century.

The descriptions were lovely and I loved the author's writing. The book got needlessly violent about 2/3 of the wa...more
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Michelle Hoover teaches writing at Boston University and Grub Street. She was a finalist for the Dorothy Churchill Cappon Essay Prize and has published short stories and novel excerpts in numerous journals, including Prairie Schooner, The Massachusetts Review, Confrontation, and StoryQuarterly. She has been the Philip Roth Writer-in-Residence at Bucknell University, a MacDowell Fellow, and the 200...more
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