Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Lantern in Her Hand” as Want to Read:
A Lantern in Her Hand
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Lantern in Her Hand

(Deal Family #1)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  4,843 ratings  ·  609 reviews
At the age of seventeen, Abbie must decide whether to marry Ed, and live a life of comfort, or Will, who offers a sod shanty on the Nebraska frontier.
Kindle Edition, 258 pages
Published December 3rd 2018 by Reading Essentials (first published 1928)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Lantern in Her Hand, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Kaylee the novel is set in the late 1800's and early 1900's in a Nebraska territory
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,843 ratings  ·  609 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was beautifully written! I loved it! It was a simple, yet tender story of a pioneer woman-Abbie Deal. It is a book full of wisdom and so much insight. It is a book about mothering, and grandmothering and people and living. It made me reflect on myself, my own mother and grandma. It had so many wonderful quotes. Some of my favorite were:

"Because the road was steep and long,
And through a dark and lonely land,
God set upon my lips a song
And put a lantern in my hand."

Here is another little
Feb 07, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally published in 1928, Beth Streeter Aldrich uses this novel to create a fantastic female character, Abbie Deal. Abbie's story begins in 1854, when she is eight years old and at the start of a three week journey, traveling with her family by wagon from Illinois to Iowa. The fact that I grew up listening to pioneer stories from this era made her voyage very vivid in my mind. I could see the sacks of flour falling out of the wagon and floating in the river and the oxen slowly pulling all th ...more
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bess Streeter Aldrich does for pioneer Nebraska, what Margaret Mitchell does for the war-torn South: makes you want to live there, no matter how bad it was.

No matter how many times I read this book, I finish it with tears streaming down my face. It's not that the ending is so dreadfully sad, it's that the entire book makes me so emotional, and I keep fighting the sob session off until the end, when it all comes out in one gush. My husband caught me at it and said, "Boy, that must be one good bo
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It feels like finding a hidden treasure when I discover a great book written long ago that I've never heard of. I struggled for a while with the style of the prose, but the story was gripping and I couldn't put it down. I was also impressed with the integrity of the protagonist and the value she placed on her role as a mother. The story is a tribute to mothers of every generation, I think, and the sacrifices they make for their children.

Note: I got my copy from interl
Cindy Rollins
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub, reread, 2017
I read this years ago and remembered loving it so much I suggested our new book club read it. Then I started to second guess my choice. I do not know if the younger women in the group will like it but I loved it just as much, if not more, this time around.

Favorite Quotes:

"And the minister at home had said you could do anything with your life. But that was not so. Life did things to you."

"Abby talked and prayed. "Oh, God, it's such little things we need help in,-such everyday affairs."

"Always th
Jun 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Beth by: Meagan
Ah, a beautiful, bittersweet book. It felt epic in places, sweeping over generations, and yet it contained small vignettes and tightly-wound themes that reminded me of a short story.

Some of the themes included:

* Choices. The choice discussed in the summary between marrying the doctor or the farmer reminded me of the famous Frost poem, about two roads diverging in a wood. That choice really did “make all the difference” to Abbie Deal — and to her posterity.
* Loyalty and Friendship. Loved the fr
Nicole Miller
Feb 15, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe it's because this author is predictable and I only recently read another book by her, but I am finding that one of the reasons I don't enjoy Pioneer era historical fiction is because it's all very predictable. They all go like this...They head west, the woman doesn't really want to go, but she has no say, so she goes along anyway, promising to visit her family (she never does). They have a hard time getting west and someone dies. They finally make it west, the first winter is hard and some ...more
Loved it! The novel, which describes the whole life of a pioneer woman named Abbie, was beautifully written and sprinkled with simple yet profound thoughts. I got so attached to Abbie and Will that the book made me all emotional. The writing style was like a mix between L.M. Montgomery and Janette Oke, with something unique added in.

Sometimes a span of 5 years or so was mentioned by only a brief paragraph, which I didn't particularly like, but the author made up for it with detailed descriptions
Vicki B
Sep 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wonder...if I had read this book at a younger age, would it have moved me in the same profound way? I've raised my children, have grandchildren, worked hard (seemed hard to me, tho' almost laughable comparable to Abbie Deal...who's story more resembles my incredible mother-in-law's) done without, had dreams, given up on dreams. So many of the musings Bess Streeter Aldrich's character has throughout her life resemble my own--some of the later ones I hadn't even given words to!

What a marvelous,
Jul 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Right from the introduction it is clear this is not going to be a sunshine and rainbows story. It doesn't shy away from the often painful realities of life, and death. Normally I'm not interested in the persevere-in-the-face-of-one-hardship-after-another genre , but for some reason I couldn't put this book down. This bittersweet story gives an interesting insight into how recently the struggle for Nebraska to become established occurred, and perhaps, why the motto of 'The Good Life' is so ardent ...more
Apr 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting book. It was more like I felt my way from cover to cover than read it. I don't even know if that makes sense but the way that the author painted the story - the images, the feelings, the experiences - was so amazing.

This book was first published in 1928 and is about the settling of Nebraska. But it reaches further back and forward than just another pioneer story. It is also about family and a mother's heart, dreams, friends and reality.

I would wholeheartedly recommend
Mar 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sally by: my mom
This was one of my mom's favorite books when she was a girl, and when I read it after she recommended it to me, it became one of mine as well. It is the story of pioneer woman who tries to maintain culture and civility in the ever changing and growing West.
Jun 17, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group, adult
I read this book for a book group and it is also the state of Nebraska book choice of the year--being a story about a pioneer family moving to and settling in Nebraska.

Since I, myself recently moved to Nebraska because of my husband's work, I did find myself sympathizing with Abbie at the beginning as she tried to convince her husband that there was nothing to go to Nebraska for and her lack of excitement about the move. I too, never thought I'd ever live in Nebraska, but like Abbie, a century l
Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished this book and can tell it's going to be one that I reflect on the rest of my life. It was beautifully written and scattered with many tidbits of wisdom. It was so enjoyable to see a whole lifetime lived in one book.

I found myself admiring and learning from the main character, Abbie Deal, through all her stages of motherhood and grand-motherhood. She was so good at loving her children despite their varying personalities, loving her husband for his unique strengths, and snapping o
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book definitely lived up to its glowing reputation;)

I'm not sure that it's one of my new favorites or anything, but it's...gosh, it's basically flawless. The middle-to-end dragged a bit at times, but overall...MAH GASH. The prevalent feeling I get from reading it is that here is a book throbbing with Life--with the joy, tragedy, injustice, and placidity of the human existence. The main characters were extremely likeable (which is kind of rare for me, I've realized--I don't usually love the
Mary JL
Aug 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: fiction-classics
This is a beautiful, poetic moving story of Abby Deal, covering the time of the early pioneer settlements in the Midwest.

It is a timeless family story of a mother who sees the dreams she is unable to fulfill passed on to her children. Realistic--with both sad and funny parts as in all lives this an excellent classic that is not as well known as it should be. Originally published in 1928 but still readable today because human nature is still the same. the covered wagons have been replaced by auto
Sep 03, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was curious to read A Lantern in Her Hand, written by Bess Streeter Aldrich, who is kind of the runner-up to Willa Cather as a Nebraska pioneer novelist. As with Cather's novels, I enjoyed reading about my (current) home state in the days when it was miles and miles of waving prairie grass and Lincoln was just a tiny town, a long wagon journey away from the characters' sod or log cabin homes, that no one could believe had been chosen as the state capital. Also like Cather, Aldrich deals frankl ...more
Zane Jones
Well, that was depressing. I might try to write a full review later, because there were some things I genuinely appreciated...
5 stars instead of 4 because "It was amazing" even though I did not "really like it". Weird, hunh?

I expected a story of the American pioneer spirit and was so surprised to find a love story—a love story of and for motherhood. Not romanticized, but rather with all the glory and heartache. Most of the time it was tedious for me to read, only partly due to the fact that it was rather slow-moving.-- I felt it too strongly, related too well to the pain and work and love. I had to labor through this b
Chelsea Cripps
I read this one for my church book club. As soon as I heard the title, I recognized it as one of my mother's favorite ever books. I read it in high school, upon her insistance, and remembered only that it was "really cheesey." On a second read, it was less cheesey than I remembered (though still a little bit) and in fact, I found it an incredibly sad novel. It's the story of a young girl around the turn of the 20th century, who has all these big girlish dreams of becoming a beautiful singer, a p ...more
Nov 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I only picked up this book because someone recommended A White Bird Flying by the same author and suggested I read this prequel first. I thought it would just be a simple read to get through before reading the next and was not prepared for the profound truths about which this book speaks.

These truths, choosing a spouse, raising your children, dying to self, were so clearly articulated through the fictional character of Abbie Deal. I was both amused and shocked at learning about life on the
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book! It had everything I love in a story; history, family, love and timeless wisdom. I really loved how Abbie described the passage of time as being like the hands of a clock that never stops and like the wind that keeps blowing. That is exactly how I view time as my own family grows and changes with new births and deaths. I found this imagery both comforting and sad. Bess Streeter Aldrich also did a wonderful job of capturing the heart of motherhood. Abbie Deal is the ...more
Dec 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Heather by: Liz
Abbie Deal was one of the first pioneers to settle in Nebraska and these 251 pages give us a sweeping glance at the many things she witnessed and endured with an abundance of love for her family and unfailing charity for others. The only downside was that at times I wanted more than a sweeping glance.
Mary Jo
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
#4 re-read of an all time favorite. It is amazing what comes forth in perspective from age. This time I was immersed in the idea of how life goes by quickly and when regrets surface, they are tempered by what has made life worthwhile. I have always loved the book's ending but now as an "old lady" I truly understand it.
Jul 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful book about the sacrifices mothers make. Oh I loved this book!
Ashley Jacobson
Perfection. I don’t know how to review this book. Others have impacted me about as much, but none were as satisfying as this. It spoke to me as a mother in a way no other book has (and probably more so since I just had baby #3). It was hard. I must say I wish someone would have warned me how many babies die in this book. That was hard to read after just having one of my own. But it was so worth it. Abbie is amazing and a character I will always carry with me. I will be revisiting this book regul ...more
May 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I liked about this wonderful book:

1. Nebraska: Having relatively recently moved to Nebraska and still feeling like a foreigner here, I just loved and appreciated how the book describes how Nebraska goes from an uncivilized territory to what it is today. The pioneers who established Nebraska gave so much to establish the state. They suffered years of bad crops and poverty and I just have to suffer through bad weather!

3. Motherhood: It made me want to enjoy my child more now, while he is stil
I found this book really insufferable, and I'm not really sure why. I think it was the style in which it was written. It was just too old-timey in a cutesy kind of way. The story was told in a rather detached, reminiscent way that kept me from caring much about the plot. I had to force myself to slog through this one. I figured that it just had to get better, but it really didn't.

The book as a whole was just depressing. I really do appreciate all the hardships that the settlers and pioneers wen
Denise Oyler
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Because the road was steep and long,
And through a dark and lonely land,
God set upon my lips a song
And put a lantern in my hand." -Joyce Kilmer

This book is a little slow moving but still interesting, portraying the duties of life and "trudging along" through each day. The writing is absolutely beautiful!! Although it is not a "page turner" of excitement, it is such a simple, yet tender story that it keeps the reader captivated. I love her depiction of death at the end of the book. I hope to reme
Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Love is like a light that you carry. At first childish happiness keeps it lighted and after that romance. Then motherhood lights it and then duty...and maybe after that sorrow. You wouldn't think that sorrow could be a light would you, dearie? But it can. And then after that, service lights it. Yes...I think that is what love is to a woman... a lantern in her hand."

I loved this book. I started reading it because I read that it was similar to Nancy Turners "These is My Words" which I loved. At f
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Hannah Fowler (Kentuckians, #2)
  • Julie
  • They Loved to Laugh
  • The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come
  • Jubilee Trail
  • Mrs. Mike (Mrs. Mike, #1)
  • The Vines of Yarrabee
  • "I Am a Man": Chief Standing Bear's Journey for Justice
  • Tisha: The Story of a Young Teacher in the Alaskan Wilderness
  • The Spear: A Novel of the Crucifixion
  • Winter Wheat
  • Mama's Bank Account
  • A Stitch in Time (Quilt Trilogy, #1)
  • The Harvester
  • Kathleen (Sunfire, #8)
  • Seven Tears for Apollo
  • Bargain Bride
  • A Private Disgrace: Lizzie Borden by Daylight
See similar books…
Bess Streeter Aldrich was one of Nebraska's most widely read and enjoyed authors. Her writing career spanned forty-some years, during which she published over 100 short stories and articles, nine novels, one novella, two books of short stories, and one omnibus. In her work, she emphasized family values and recorded accurately Midwest pioneering history.

One of her books, Miss Bishop, was made into

Other books in the series

Deal Family (2 books)
  • A White Bird Flying
“You have, to dream things out. It keeps a kind of an ideal before you. You see it first in your mind and then you set about to try and make it like the ideal. If you want a garden,—why, I guess you've got to dream a garden.” 29 likes
“I think that love is more like a light that you carry. At first childish happiness keeps it lighted and after that romance. Then motherhood lights it and then duty . . . and maybe after that sorrow. You wouldn't think that sorrow could be a light, would you, dearie? But it can. And then after that, service lights it. Yes. . . . I think that is what love is to a woman . . . a lantern in her hand.” 19 likes
More quotes…