Wednesday, July 10, 2013
THE WIDOWS OF BRAXTON COUNTY, Jess McConkey
Just finished this stunning mystery yesterday. It is set in rural Iowa in two time periods. The first is 1890 on the Krause farm where we meet Hannah Krause, wife of Jacob. Jacob is a brutish lout who beats her and has practically imprisoned her on the farm. Her teenage stepson lives in a cabin near the house because he hates Hannah. Her only purpose and joy in life is her nine year old son Willie. He's also Jacob's son but bears no resemblance to his father.
Second, in 2012 we meet Kate, bride of Joseph Krause. He is bringing her home from the city to live on the farm. She doesn't know until they arrive that her crabby, nit-picking mother-in-law will be living there too. At the farm she gradually learns that Joseph has inherited some of Jacob's less than endearing qualities, and he and his mother live by 1890 rules as far as a woman's place is concerned.
The Krause family split in half after Jacob's murder in 1890 and Kate's new family is ensnared in the hate they have nurtured in their hearts ever since, even though they kept the farm. Kate has to learn to stand up for herself and find friends she can trust as the continuing feud threatens to destroy her. I found myself wanting to grab Kate and implant some spine when she doubted herself and refused to speak up against what was happening, but reading on I discovered why she was that way.
This is a riveting family saga involving women's rights, or lack thereof, and how hatred eats a person alive. Those of us who live in rural areas have known people who are incapable of changing with the times. We can relate to some of the characters in this story, but it still got my blood pressure up because the women were treated so unfairly. As you can imagine, gossip played a big part in what happened too.
Source: LibraryThing win