Friday, October 24, 2014

Prairie Life

If you're looking for some wholesome historical fiction about homesteaders, I can recommend the "Butter in the Well" series. I downloaded both volumes for free on my Kindle, though they cost a few dollars now.

The two books in the series are written in the form of diary entries, which the author based on various historical documents and other publications. They are fictionalized accounts of the lives of real Swedish immigrants. The first is written from the point of view of a young wife, and the second- that of her teenaged daughter.

The diary entries are all pretty simple and some are even mundane. We hear about which foods they are canning on a given day and which new inventions have come to town. Sometimes there is a list of people who are sick. Sentiments are included, but not always. The simple style makes it seem more realistic, as if a real person is just writing his/her thoughts as they come and trying to record things for posterity. Even though it isn't very riveting, it is convincing.

At the same time, there are often several entries in a row that talk about historical events or inventions, and you get the feeling that the author is trying to pack as many facts into the text as possible and then just connecting it all with a few imagined details. It can get a bit tiresome.

All in all, the series is very calming and educational. An enjoyable change of pace, and it was interesting knowing that these people really existed, even if the specific thoughts in the fictional "diary" never actually crossed their mind. It looks like the author (Linda Hubalek) has a few other similar series that I might check out as well.

And the characters of "Butter in the Well" ARE Christians, but there is nothing "preachy" going on in the narrative.


  1. Have you read the O.E. Rolvaag books about settlers in South Dakota? They are absolutely brilliant - and Christian in a profound way. "Giants in the Earth" was a required book for the "regular" HS English class, whereas being in "advanced placement" we read Canterbury Tales. When I later read "Giants in the Earth" I felt like falling on my knees in gratitude that I'd been able to read that incredible book without the distractions and "de-sanctification" that would have taken place in HS English class. And, then, of course Willa Cather is amazing with "prairie" books, too. Oh! And, Rose Wilder Lane's books (Laura Ingall's daughter) are extremely good. "Let the Hurricane Roar" is one that is very good. (Can you tell I love "prairie books".?

  2. I hadn't actually heard of "Giants in the Earth." I don't remember liking Willa Cather very much, but maybe it's because I did have to read it for school.

  3. Sounds intriguing! I enjoy historical fiction. (=


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