This is a debut novel about the harsh lands of the Dakota's in the 1900's -a fictional story that tells us how so many might have moved there and tried to make a home for their families.
The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
New author for me Ann Weisgarber writes debut novel with "The Personal History of Rachel DuPree"
Not my usual type of book to read but decided when seeing it was about the badlands of Dakota in early 1900's it would be period I like to read.
Rachel is a strong determined young black woman who strives to get ahead and while working as a housekeeper she meets Isaac who is the son of the owner. He has been in the army and who can resist a uniform...she sees the charm which seems to flow from him as he never meets a stranger. She felt he didn't look at her as the help, only as a pretty young girl.
Others told her nothing would come of it and that she should not set her sights so high...
Isaac had heard about getting land in the Dakota's when you would work and settle there and decided when his army term was up soon that is what he wanted to do feeling in his heart of hearts that a young black man owning land would be respected for his determination to succeed in such a harsh enviroment.
Rachel can see that Isaac has a dream and she wants to help him and herself to a better life so she plans to make him want to take her with him when he goes. "I think here of -we need to watch what we dream and yearn for because we just might get it."
Isaac was not in love with Rachel but thought she could get just as much land as himself and then his would be doubled so they struck a plan she would give her land to him and they would marry for a year.
That first year stretched to 14 along with lot of hard work and several children born. I think Isaac admired the hard worker that Rachel was and just maybe fell a little in love with her....
Rachel fell in love with this man that could charm his way around her when she felt like giving up. times were harsh in the the badlands, lot of hard work and not much in the way of foods, they eeked out a living first in a sod house then finally after many years a wooden one was made -small but better then the sodhouse. They had many cattle and much land that Isaac was so proud to be the owner of.
in the year of 1917 pregnant again and in drought times with little food for her children Rachel knew she could not let this man charm her any longer, she knew he planned to leave her alone for the winter and go work in the mines far away-his way to help them survive and keep the land that was now over 2500 acres. Rachel had given up much to live in the badlands with Isaac and felt she and the children needed to go back to Chicago just for the winter to survive. On this they did not agree..
Rachel gave birth to that last child(a boy-stillborn) alone with the children. Isaac had told her he would be home in early morn after trip to neighbors but didnt get back, the oldest daughter ran out to find help and found an old indian woman who came and helped through the last of it. I cannot think of the pain and suffering that she went through with this birth and the anguish when she knew it did not live. Rachel needed Isaac's support and he was busy trying to get more land and cattle ...there would never be enough for him.
This is quite an intense novel for a first one for Ann and I think she told well of the times that Rachel and Isaac lived through and the hardships that folks had in those times.
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