Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Winter Wheat is in some sense regional fiction, very much about the wheat-growing country of central Montana, but it's also more universal than that. It's mostly about a daughter, Ellen, striving to understand her parents and their love for each other - something she doubts as she discovers romantic love for herself. And it's about different Americans - urban, rural, immigrants, soldiers, zealots, children, teachers - and how they influence each other. Still pretty relevant things to think about, 60 or 70 years later.
One thing bugged me; the moment of epiphany for the protagonist practically had neon lights around it. I wish someone could have told the author (Mildred Walker) that we would have gotten it even without the caps and italics. But I just chalked it up to an Anne Shirley moment and moved on. Overall, I enjoyed the entire book. Not a hard read. Not a controversial read. Just a great story. I'd say it's an underrated classic, even.
The whole plains feeling of the setting and the great character of Ellen's Russian mother, Anna, kept me thinking of My Antonia ... an all-time fave for me, a high compliment.