Threads: A Depression Era Tale by Charlotte Whitney 327 pages
I was excited when I won this book in the giveaway section of the Shelf Awareness newsletter. I was dismayed when the book opened with “A Note on Mid-Michigan Farm Dialect.” Ninety-five percent of the books I read with dialogue aren’t very good—the dialect gets in the way. Not so with this intriguing tale of three sisters over the course of 1934. It sort of got in my way in the beginning, but it soon evened out.
To tell a story with three different narrators is challenging, even for a seasoned writer, which Whitney is not. But she does it superbly! And to keep the voices clear and recognizable to each sister is quite the feat! I never had a problem knowing which sister was talking at any given time.
This is the story of three sisters: Nellie, seven; Irene, eleven, and Flora, 17. Remember the old adage that there are three sides to every story? Two who tell the story and the truth. Here we get three sides of each story, as each sister gives her account of what is happening.
And there is a lot happening. The girls live on a farm in mid-Michigan, and reads are treated to what life is like in this hardscrabble time.
Nellie is still too young to really know how the Depression is affecting the family. She visits the farm animals every day, especially the cows that stand under the cherry blossom trees. She even has an imaginary friend, ZeeZee, who is an alien. But one day, Nellie finds a shallow grave of a dead baby. Whose it is and how the discovery affects the little girl runs through the entire novel.
The middle sister, Irene, seems to have more faults than good qualities. She finds faults with the world in general and especially with her sisters.
The oldest sister, Flora, wants to get go on dates and get married. She eyes a schoolmate and fellow church member, Henry, as her savior from spinsterhood. But when rumors start to fly that the dead baby Nellie found is Flora’s, well her chances to wed seem to disappear.
There are a lot of other interesting characters that the readers meet in the small farming community. By the end I felt as if I had been part of the lives of these people. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, always looking forward to my reading time every evening.
As I read, wondered how on earth could Whitney without leaving the readers hanging. Easy-peasy---an epilogue that thakes place forty years later.
“Threads: A Depression Era Tale” receives 5 out of 5 stars in Julie’s world.