On Sarpy Creek by Ira S Nelson (Historical Fiction)

A hidden gem, this book was a bit of an adult Little House on the Prarie for me, following a tiny farming community in Montana from ~1920 to 1932 — through droughts, bank failures, and the ever present vicissitudes of rural life.  I loved the clean style — everything was so real and so matter of fact — there was no need for inserted drama or pointed narrative.  Instead , we are treated to the details of every day life with a window into the values, sense of duty, and struggles of individual characters.

Written in 1938 (and reprinted in 2003), there are none of our modern sensibilities subtly (perhaps unintentionally?) inserted into the sense these people had about their own lives.  It brought out for me the stark difference between life then and now — with absolutely no safety net outside of what your (few) neighbors might be able to provide.  Local Indians feature in the story and the engagement is nothing like the stereotypes I grew up with, nor are they like the updated pictures we like to paint today. We see different relationships created and evolving and once again the interactions between men and women don’t exactly follow stereotypes either past or present, but we are privy to people’s thoughts and reactions. Every person and interaction is both realistic and individual. 

I found it hard to put down (except when the smaller print drove me to rest my eyes).

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