Nothing like the movie, but is that surprising? I actually enjoyed the fact that this book was nothing like the movie ("A Will of Their Own" with Lea T...moreNothing like the movie, but is that surprising? I actually enjoyed the fact that this book was nothing like the movie ("A Will of Their Own" with Lea Thompson), and it's one of the few times that I could enjoy both despite their differences.
The book, originally published as "Daughters of the New World," follows five generations of women through the very end of the 19th century and through most of the twentieth. Anna, an immigrant from Wales, moves to the US to be a housemaid to an uppercrust Washington, D.C. family only to marry their son. Public, er, shame prompts the couple to move to Wisconsin, where Anna gives birth to Amanda and dies not long after. Amanda grows up with on the Chippewa reservation in Ashland, has a love affair with a childhood friend named Flat Mouth that lasts a lifetime, disguises herself as a man to photograph WW1, has a child that she promptly carts everywhere for her work, and lives to the age of 90. Sara picks up the torch in the 1940s as a wife, mother, hotel proprietor and alcoholic who is a foil to strong-minded but emotionally distant Amanda. Sara's daughter, Eleanor, is a warmer but equally strong and smart version of Amanda. Eleanor is probably the best-developed and most likable character in the story, as Amanda's larger-than-life disposition and Sara's quiet desperation make both of them difficult to identify with. Finally, the story concludes with Eleanor's daughters, Lily and Kat, carving a way for themselves in the 1980s and 1990s.
The characters in the book definitely feel like real people instead of archetypes, so keep that in mind. If you enjoy books of that sort, give this one a whirl.(less)
One of the best books I ever read. I found an older edition of it in a used book shop on Charing Cross in London in 2001 and gave it to a friend. But,...moreOne of the best books I ever read. I found an older edition of it in a used book shop on Charing Cross in London in 2001 and gave it to a friend. But, I had to buy it myself and keep it as well. This book is the best, most readable version of the Arthurian legend. The main character is Morgaine of the Faeries, known in earlier tellings as Morgan Le Fay, who, as it turns out, was not an evil, incestuous witch but instead a powerful Druid priestess who conceived Arthur's son in ignorance of his father's identity. Offered as foils to powerful, brilliant Morgaine are Viviane, the Lady of the Lake; promiscuous, plotting-yet-sloppy Morgause, her aunt; good, passionate Igraine, her mother; fragile, terrified Gwenhwyfar; and naive Elaine, Lancelet's wife. Morgaine's retelling of Arthur's story focus not on tiresome tales of the exploits of knights but on a woman's view of a world coming to an end. As Christianity, and the Dark Ages, swallow Britain whole, as the Saxons encroach onto Britain's shores, and as the ancient worship of the Goddess becomes repainted as consummate evil, Morgaine speaks as, well, the voice of reason--a dispassionate commentator who fights for her way of life yet accepts what she has to accept.(less)
"Build before you can plan, build in your sleep and through your mealtimes, but build, pilgrim, build, claimant of the earth, build, build, build. You...more"Build before you can plan, build in your sleep and through your mealtimes, but build, pilgrim, build, claimant of the earth, build, build, build. You are permitted to begin in the kind delusion that your utensils of homestead-making at least are the straightforward ones--axe, hammer, adze, pick, shovel, pitchfork. But your true tools are other. The nearest names that can be put to them are hope, muscle and time." p. 91(less)