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The Personal History of Rachel Dupree
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The Personal History of Rachel Dupree

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  1,402 ratings  ·  342 reviews
"An eye-opening look at the little-explored area of a black frontier woman in the American West." --"Chicago Sun-Times"
Praised by Alice Walker and many other bestselling writers, "The Personal History of Rachel DuPree" is an award-winning debut novel with incredible heart about life on the prairie as it's rarely been seen. Reminiscent of "The Color Purple," as well as th
ebook, 336 pages
Published August 1st 2010 by Penguin Books (first published May 28th 2008)
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Rachel works as a cook at a boardinghouse for negro men who work at the slaughterhouses in Chicago. The boardinghouse is owned by Mrs. Dupree, a widow. When her son Issac returns from military service he sees an opportunity to gain more land for his homestead claim by marrying Rachel. She is infatuated by Issac and agrees. So begins their life together in the Badlands in South Dakota. Issac continues to buy land from those who csnnot sustain their ranches. For Issac land is everything. Rachel su ...more
This is the story of Rachel Dupree, a black woman pioneer living with her husband and their five children in the Badlands of South Dakota. Isaac, Rachel's husband, is a hard man, determined that his children will never have to bow and scrape to the whites. In Isaac's mind, owning land is the only insurance against this. Rachel, who is nine months pregnant, is less certain. In their fourteen years in the Badlands, they have lost two children. Life in South Dakota is stark and mean and Rachel mour ...more
Tara Chevrestt
The time is 1903. The setting is Chicago. Rachel is working as a cook in a boarding house, living at home with her parents to whom she hands over most of her paychecks to, and there are no marriage prospects in sight unless she wants to settle for a slaughter house worker and still be a cook in a boarding house ten years down the road. So when a fine fellow, Isaac Dupree comes around talking about 160 acres of South Dakota land, Rachel pretty much proposes to him. The deal: She gets her own 160 ...more
Zohar -
The Per­sonal His­tory of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weis­gar­ber is an award-winning fic­tional book tak­ing place in the Bad­lands of South Dakota. The book fol­lows the tough life in that area.

Six­teen year old Chicago res­i­dent Rachel Reeves works as a cook and expe­ri­ences dis­crim­i­na­tion not only from whites, but from the élite African-Americans as well. How­ever, Rachel is a proud woman who idol­izes Ida B. Wells-Barnett, a fear­less cru­sader and anti-lynching acti­vate. When her boss’ so
In this tale of a woman who basically sells herself into her marriage for 160 acres of unforgiving land in the South Dakota Badlands the reader sees the strength of the American homesteader.
Rachel Reeves was working in the kitchen of Mrs. DuPree's boarding house when Isaac DuPree comes home in his Army uniform. Rachel falls in love but Isaac has one thing on his mind; homesteading in the Badlands where he can stake his claim to 160 acres of land. To him land is everything. Rachel reminds him tha
I'm working my way through the Reader's Choice Nominees for this year at the Library and The Personal History of Rachel DuPree is my favorite so far!

I just finished reading this heartbreaking story and I desperately want to know, "What happens next?!!!" The novel is very well written. I could hardly stand to put it down. I wanted to get to a happy ending! I wanted everything to finally work out for Rachel!

I loved going back in history and getting a feel for life in the United States in the ear
I quite liked this book, and was very impressed with it for being the first novel of a non-writer (by profession. She wrote a book, so obviously she's a writer). The voice of the narrator, Rachel, was engaging, and she did a great job weaving the past events of her life into what was happening now. The author was also a master of showing, not telling, and you were able to get a detailed picture of relationships and personalities from very brief exchanges.
I loved the setting, both of place and ti
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
This is the kind of book that makes me joyful as a reader. It's immediately engrossing, it illuminates a life that is otherwise foreign to me, and paints real landscapes and situations I've never experienced. Set in 1917 at a ranch in South Dakota by the Badlands, the story is told by Rachel DuPree, an African-American woman who married an ambitious man, whose entire identity and self-value is tied up in the land he owns. The book opens with a punch: a longstanding drought requires the extreme ...more
Jessica McCann
Ann Weisgarber’s debut novel has received many accolades, all well-deserved. Your heart will ache -- with love and despair, with wonder and disbelief, with hope and pride.

The Personal History of Rachel Dupree tells of life in the South Dakota Badlands in the early 1900s, when the last parcels of land in the U.S. Homestead Act were divvied up -- land so barren, remote and harsh that few had the fortitude and stubbornness to tame it. Anyone could make a claim to 160 acres -- even a single woman o
Rarely have I experienced a historical novel such as this one. Ms Weisgarber has chosen to champion black women in the undeveloped and barren wilds of the Badlands, and she does it with a sensitivity that will break your heart, sparking feelings you didn't know you possessed. "The Personal History of Rachel DuPree" is a mightily rendered novel, it left me wondering how I could have held my breath such a long time.

One thing was certain and universal throughout this book and that was the push-pull
I am a huge fan of pioneers. I love history, and I really enjoy stories of women's struggles with the land. This one was just a little too distant for me. Rachel was too quiet as she struggled through her own personal recognition, and while I was happy with her decision in the end, I just couldn't figure out why she wasn't pushed to a breaking point much sooner! After sixteen years, my husband surely would've heard my opinion once or twice. A friend disagrees completely, and says "if you were a ...more
Recently, I was asked the question 'Why do you read historical fiction?' I think my answer was something along the lines of being able to eavesdrop on history. Really, the answer could have been to read books like this to find out about little known facts from history. My knowledge of homesteaders in America is very limited and I certainly hadn't given any thought to the fact that there were African-American homesteaders,or to the life that they and their families would have lived.

To read more o
Really enjoyed this. It tells the story of life on the American Prairies early 20th Century and the hardships suffered, particularly by the first black settlers. I feel a bit bereft now it's finished...! Highly recommended...
Hope Sherman
a good read....very spare and unflinching in its telling, quite evocative of the time and place where this takes place. Dakota prairies had the name badlands for a reason - and the life that Rachel is so thrilled to have with Isaac is indeed bad. She doesn't realize how bad it is until she looks at it through her children's eyes. They are all under Isaac's spell of doing what needs to be done, constantly working with very little pleasure in their lives. Isaac is so sparing with his praise and lo ...more
Shari Larsen
This is the story of Rachel Dupree, wife of one of the few African American ranchers in the South Dakota Badlands in 1917. As the story opens, Isaac is lowering their six year old daughter Liz into the well to fetch water in the midst of a terrible drought. Rachel knows it must be done, yet at that moment, she questions her loyalty to Isaac, whose ambitions to own more land seems to come ahead of the needs of his family. Rachel, who is pregnant with her eighth child, has to decide whether to sta ...more
Sep 22, 2010 Peggy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes historcal fiction
I really enjoyed this book. It is about a strong Black woman, who sets out from Chicago with her husband, a former Army soldier, to homestead on the South Dakota frontier. They each have an alottment of 160 acres, where they ranch and raise a family. The husband, Isaac, is very ambitious and soon they have more than 2000 acres of land. As the book begins, they have had many good years, but a severe drought has nearly brought them to ruin.

Rachel is a very strong woman. She has 5 childen alive
This book was a mix of unnecessary drama and depressing events, and somehow, despite all that, NOTHING HAPPENED.

Reading it felt like watching later seasons of Gilmore Girls - the plot and events were contrived and based on "cliffhangers" that had no basis in reality. Rachel worries about how her husband is going to react to various things (hint: he usually reacts badly). Rachel apologizes to her husband for his reaction. Rachel gets a letter from home and delays reading it for a day or two for
Oh my. This has left me all full of emotions. What a hard story to tell, and yet how well done. I really liked this...I can't ruin it here but wish I had a good book club to discuss it with. Part of me thought "These is my words" by Nancy Turner- while oddly enough I had reminders of "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett all the while remembering bits of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Books. But this is not a set of books to compare and of course each are so wildly different. I guess there were a few threads ...more
Perhaps I loved this book because I recently read In the Warmth of Other Suns and The Worst Hard Times, both of which told of a time and place that I knew so little about. Rachel DuPree and her husband are African American homesteaders in the Badlands of North Dakota. Life is harsh, to say the least: children die without warning, food runs short, the drought forces them to send their youngest down the well shaft, past the snake, screaming in terror, to try to scoop up a bit of water.

They're from
From Publishers Weekly
Weisgarber's atmospheric if unexceptional debut of pioneering hardships follows a staunch South Dakota farmwife as she struggles with misgivings about her ambitious husband. The story begins as Rachel DuPree, wife of one of the only African-American ranchers in the Badlands in 1917, watches her husband, Isaac, lower their six-year-old daughter, Liz, down a well to fetch water in the midst of a terrible drought. Though she concedes it must be done, Rachel--heavily pregnant w
The Personal History of Rachel DuPree is the story of a black woman of lower status in the early 1900s in Chicago who sees an opportunity to be with/marry an ambitious young black man set to be a rancher in the Badlands and takes it, only to discover that she has chosen a hard life with a man who never really cared for her in the first place. Rachel must decide whether she has the strength to stick it out and hope that her husband eventually will come to appreciate and love her out of his own se ...more
Isaac Dupree is a buffalo soldier, the pride of his mother and their Chicago neighborhood, and a handsome, charming man determined to make something of himself. The US government doesn't care what color a homesteaders skin is, and Isaac's going to make a go of ranching in the Dakota Badlands.

In love with Isaac, Rachel suggests a proposition. She'll allow Isaac to stake a second claim in her name, then after they marry, he'll own twice as much land. In return, she has a year to prove to him that
The Personal History of Rachel Dupree is a fictional account of black homsteaders in the early twentieth century. I picked this one up because I love novels which explore the experiences of little-known communities. I hadn't known there were black homesteaders and wanted to know what life was like for them. After all the accolades this book received I was expecting to be wowed but ended up being disappointed.

The writing is good and all the themes I was most interested in about race and discrimi
Bernadette Robinson
I found this a very easy read. It tells the story of a coloured couple Rachel DuPree and her husband Isaac. We first meet Rachel when she's working for Isaac's Mum. Isaac had been a soldier in the Army on his return he strikes up a marriage of convenience with Rachel much to his Mother's disgust in some ways, as she had another lady earmarked for him.

What ensues is a tale of poverty and hardship set in the South Dakota Badlands. This story has been compared to Little House on the Prairie and I c
A moving, sad story about an African American couple who homestead in the harsh environment of the Badlands region in South Dakota in the early 20th century, he a former Buffalo soldier in the Dakotas who was at Wounded Knee and she a former cook at his mother's boarding house in Chicago. To escape the constraints of her life in Chicago's packinghouse district, she bargains with him: he signs up for an extra 160 acres in her name and agrees to marry her and keep her on the homestead for a year. ...more
The loneliness of the Badlands was painted vividly by Ann Weisgarber in her debut novel. Written from Rachel's point of view, the story was at turns gruesome (regarding the realities of death on the prairie) and memorable, but I couldn't help wanting to get into the head of a different character. At times, the flashbacks were a bit clumsy, but overall, gave more insight into Rachel's history.
I really enjoyed this book, it is a beautifully written detailed story of an African American pioneer woman who marries an ambitious man above her station and they go west to claim their acres and live the dream. Told in first person this book gives a vivid account of the difficulties of pioneer life especially for African Americans and women in general at that time and especially in the harsh landcape Badlands of The Dakotas...Its definitely a good read! I would definitely reccommend it!!
This book surprised me--I thought it would be another simplistic "rah, rah, homesteaders were so tough and awesome" story, which is why I didn't read it when it first came out, but it's actually a LOT more complex than that. It paints an unflinching picture of how hard it was to try to make a go of it in South Dakota in the early 20th century, while creating sympathy for both Rachel (who, after fourteen unforgiving years, is rapidly losing enthusiasm for the whole project) and for her husband Is ...more
I can't imagine why I left this book unread on my shelf for so one.
I always enjoy historical fiction that looks at untold stories.
This book exceeded my expectations for a debut novel and I was so engrossed in the story that I read in one sitting.
While there were unanswered questions at the end this was the story of Rachel in the Badlands and we surely got an engaging story.
And I am having a wonderful discussion with my book buddies.
This was well-written. Past events are cleverly weaved into the story as recollections and memories, when Rachel's mind would wander off to them as she went about her daily tasks. That endeared me to her. I liked reading about how Rachel has changed through the years and how she tried to look forward even while feeling regret for some of the choices she made when she was younger.
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What do you think of the ending? 4 27 Feb 18, 2013 04:57PM  
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Ann is the author of "The Promise" and "The Personal History of Rachel DuPree." She was nominated for England’s 2009 Orange Prize and for the 2009 Orange Award for New Writers. In the United States, she won the Stephen Turner Award for New Fiction and the Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction. She was shortlisted for the Ohioana Book Award and was a Barnes and Noble Discover New Writer.

More about Ann Weisgarber...
The Promise Unwritten, The Promise, Never Go Back, Stargazey Point (Reader's Digest Select Edtions, Volume 2, 2014) 332

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