on 17 July 2001
Mary Sharratt's first novel is a wonderfully original story of a young working-class girl in early 20th century Minnesota. Kathrin is an immigrant from Germany who has come from a deprived background. Starved of love and attention, she is forced to make difficult choices about love and loyalty on her way to becoming a woman. This female-centered book is also a poetic, beautifully woven story about Kathrin's introduction to love and sexuality. Torn between a man and a woman who both offer different sorts of passion, commitment and protection, she at first makes the conventional choice. Sharratt portrays Kathrin's harsh and ultimately empty experiences of marriage propelling her in the other direction, towards love and intimacy. It is an original and compelling historical novel - grounded, believable, memorable.
on 18 September 2000
This book is like taking a trip to another time and place without having to leave your couch. It wraps you in the life of another so strongly you can taste the bread Katherine eats, smell the sweetness of Lily of the Valley, feel the velvet cloth under your fingers and emphasize with the troubles of the heart.
on 2 December 2003
Once I started reading this book, I was gripped and stayed up late to finish it. It's a great story, well written - somehow sparse and rich at once. It paints a picture of a complete world in a very convincing way. Some parts of the plot are so foreshadowed, what happens seems inevitable, but there are lots of surprises too, as the characters and their relationships change. The use of fairytale is beautiful and adds a deeper layer to the narrative. I look forward to reading more by this author.