Enidina Current and Mary Morrow live on neighboring farms in the flat, hard country of the upper Midwest during the early 1900s. This hardscrabble life comes easily to some, like Eddie, who has never wanted more than the land she works and the animals she raises on it with her husband, Frank. Read more...
Enidina Current and Mary Morrow live on neighboring farms in the flat, hard country of the upper Midwest during the early 1900s. This hardscrabble life comes easily to some, like Eddie, who has never wanted more than the land she works and the animals she raises on it with her husband, Frank. But for the deeply religious Mary, farming is an awkward living and at odds with her more cosmopolitan inclinations. Still, Mary creates a clean and orderly home life for her stormy husband, Jack, and her sons, while she adapts to the isolation of a rural town through the inspiration of a local preacher. She is the first to befriend Eddie in a relationship that will prove as rugged as the ground they walk on. Despite having little in common, Eddie and Mary need one another for survival and companionship. But as the Great Depression threatens, the delicate balance of their reliance on one another tips, pitting neighbor against neighbor, exposing the dark secrets they hide from one another, and triggering a series of disquieting events that threaten to unravel not only their friendship but their families as well.
In this luminous and unforgettable debut, Michelle Hoover explores the polarization of the human soul in times of hardship and the instinctual drive for self-preservation by whatever means necessary. "The" "Quickening "stands as a novel of lyrical precision and historical consequence, reflecting the resilience and sacrifices required even now in our modern troubled times.
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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2010-05-10
- Reviewer: Staff
Hoover's powerful debut tells the story of the intertwined fortunes of two early 20th-century Midwestern farm women. From the time Enidina Current and her husband, Frank, move into the hardscrabble farmhouse a day's wagon ride away from Enidina's family, their closest neighbors, Jack and Mary Morrow, perplex them, though their proximity and shared farm work often bring the two couples together. Sharing the narrative, stoic Enidina struggles through several miscarriages before finally bearing twins, while the more delicate Mary reels from disappointment, most of all in her volatile husband. Moving through the Depression, the families are driven farther apart from each other, even while Mary's youngest spends most of his time in the Current household, until an accident and a betrayal drive the final wedge into their lives. In this finely wrought and starkly atmospheric narrative, Hoover's characters carry deep secrets, and their emotions are as intense as the acts of nature that shape their world. (July)
The ties that bind
Michelle Hoover’s debut novel is a haunting, beautifully told story that explores the hardships of the Great Depression by focusing on two families—neighbors who are in many ways complete opposites of one another. The Quickening unfolds gradually, beginning in 1913, and is told in alternating chapters by the family matriarchs, Enidina (Eddie) Current and Mary Morrow.
Eddie is a large, down-to-earth woman who throws herself into even the dirtiest farm jobs and is devoted to her hard-working husband Frank, with whom she moved to a farm “a day’s wagon ride” away from the family farm where she grew up. The Morrow family, she says, were “a worry to ours from day one.” Mary Morrow, raised in a city, distances herself from the rigors of farm work, preferring to play the piano and attend services at the nearby chapel. Different as they are, the two women bond, if only to have another voice to help stave off their isolation.
Eddie suffers two miscarriages, and when she next feels a quickening, she doesn’t want to admit it, afraid she will lose another baby. But she gives birth to twins, Donny and Adaline, whose lives become inextricably tied to Mary’s youngest boy, Kyle. As the twins grow, the farms suffer their worst years, with alternating drought and floods, a drop in crop prices and the raising of mortgages caused by the Depression. Misfortune drives a wedge between the families, culminating in a tragedy that severs the neighborly ties for good.
Hoover writes with such emotional clarity about these two women, their fierce maternal instincts and their determination to survive in spite of impossible hardships that the reader can almost feel their presence. Hoover is the granddaughter of four generations-old farming families, so perhaps this empathy is in her genes, resulting in a captivating and heartfelt first novel.