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The Personal History of Rachel DuPree
 
 

The Personal History of Rachel DuPree [Kindle Edition]

Ann Weisgarber
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Review

'This is a very well written novel from a new author, which reminded me of Catherine Cookson in some ways. All the way through I felt for Rachel and her children and what would become of them - the characterisation is excellent.'
--New Books

'An indelibly affecting teaching story: How unchecked selfish desires, regardless of their origins in historical cruelty and deprivation, lead inevitably to suffering. A suffering that can be alleviated only by the realization of a pure love for others greater than one's desires for self. Rachel and Isaac DuPree and their tiny, vulnerable family stand as monuments to the forgotten millions of brutal, spirit deforming choices made and endured by so many brave and deeply wounded Americans.' -- Alice Walker

Review

'An indelibly affecting teaching story: How unchecked selfish desires, regardless of their origins in historical cruelty and deprivation, lead inevitably to suffering. A suffering that can be alleviated only by the realization of a pure love for others greater than one's desires for self. Rachel and Isaac DuPree and their tiny, vulnerable family stand as monuments to the forgotten millions of brutal, spirit deforming choices made and endured by so many brave and deeply wounded Americans.'

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More About the Author

Ann is the author of The Promise and The Personal History of Rachel DuPree. She was nominated for England's 2009 Orange Prize and for the 2009 Orange Award for New Writers. In the United States, she won the Stephen Turner Award for New Fiction and the Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction. She was shortlisted for the Ohioana Book Award and was a Barnes and Noble Discover New Writer.

The Promise takes place in Galveston, Texas, during the time of the historic 1900 Storm that killed thousands. Ann was inspired by an abandoned, dilapidated house on the rural end of Galveston and by an interview she conducted when writing an article for a local magazine. Her debut novel, The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, takes place in the South Dakota Badlands during 1917. It was inspired by a photograph of an unknown woman sitting in front of a sod dugout.

Ann was born and raised in Kettering, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton. She graduated from Wright State University in Dayton with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work and earned a Master of Arts in Sociology from the University of Houston. She has been a social worker in psychiatric and nursing home facilities, and taught sociology at Wharton County Junior College in Texas.

In addition to Ohio and Texas, Ann has lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Des Moines, Iowa. She now splits her time between Sugar Land, Texas, (home to Imperial Sugar Company), and Galveston, Texas. She and her husband, Rob, are fans of America's national parks and visit at least one park a year. Ann is currently working on her next novel that takes place in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, during the winter of 1888.

Visit Ann's website at www.annweisgarber.com.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Gripping tale of love and loss in the Badlands (and they were really bad), early last century. Everyone needs a little 'sweetness' in their lives but for Rachel hers is one long slog to fight the elements and keep her children alive. There's loyalty and there's life and she'd rather that than her husband's pride. As a black man coming from nothing, his determination to own his own land and accumulate more as a way of earning respect is admirable - but at what cost? This is a great story beautifully written.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new Willa Cather? 24 July 2009
Format:Hardcover
It's hard to believe that this powerfully written and well-constructed book can be a first novel.
It's short enough to read in one sitting; you won't want to break the mood once you're absorbed in it.
Set in 1917, in the unforgiving South Dakota Badlands, it focuses on a few months in the life of Rachel DuPree, wife of one of the very few black ranchers, a man completely obsessed with land ownership, his measure of equality with the white man. He married for land; he would sell his daughter for land; and yet we can understand Rachel's love for her proud husband. Isaac's unforgiving loathing of the native Indians puzzled me but, finally, Weisgarber explains it in one succinct sentence - and it all falls into place. (It would spoil it to explain, it takes your breath away.)
The novel starts with an immensely powerful scene when the parents drop their terrified 6yo daughter down a drought-stricken well, to scoop up the last few cupfuls of water; knowing they will have to make her do it again because only a small child can be winched up again. An amazing book.
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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Savoured every word... 17 Jun 2009
By Amber
Format:Paperback
Just sometimes I read a book which makes me slow up and savour every word and this was one of them. I have a shelf of books which I keep to re read one day in my dotage and this is definitely heading for it. It explores vast ideas of love, life, motherhood, American cultural history and a whole lot more in beautifully understated language. A brilliant story which sears images into your head which will stay there. The opening sequence picture of the little girl and the well is poignant beyond belief... prepare to be hooked in from page one. Loved it.

PS I read the comment saying it was like Catherine Cookson's writing and I couldn't disagree more... The Personal History of Rachel DuPree is intelligent writing for readers who like space to imagine for themselves and to identify their own poignancies.
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61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it, read it, enjoy it! 29 July 2008
Format:Hardcover
The most amazing book I've read in a long time-a novel set in 1917 in the South Dakota Badlands,and told from the perspective a Negro woman, Rachel living a life of unbelievable hardship on an isolated ranch with her ex-soldier husband Isaac.
Married as a business arrangement,they have a family- he will never leave the ranch because he feels he will no longer be equal with the remailning white ranchers and will lose face. There is a drought, a baby is on the way......
Rachel must decide where her loyalties lie- to her husband or to her children- should she return to Chicago?
Set against the 1917 race riots and war in Europe,this novel is thought provoking and told from a unique point of view.
Please beg, borrow or steal a copy!!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous! 25 Mar 2009
By Lincs Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
This novel is on the long list for the Orange Prize 2009, I really hope it makes the shortlist.

A really fabulous read with a main character who I loved and rooted for every step of the way. A fascinating look at the life of Negroe families in the Badlands, South Dakota at the turn of the last century. Their hard lives and how they survived.

There are some fantastic characters throughout the story - the detail of the writing is wonderful. I found it really hard to put this down.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful New Book 22 Aug 2008
Format:Hardcover
"I still see her, our Liz, sitting on a plank, dangling over the well." So begins the powerful new book by Ann Weisgarber with its longing for a place and a time past and, also, for Liz who will remain in our minds precarious and forever over that well in the Dakota Badlands with her bony six-year-old frame and her worry that wearing her brother's hand-me-downs would make her a boy.

Rachel DuPree, the narrator hero of the book and Liz's mother, is a "Negro" woman from Chicago at the turn of the 20th century--a generation removed from official slavery though struggling with its practical and psychological aftereffects, nevertheless. Hers is the story of an escape and a bargain during which--through which--she matures from a simple girl to a woman of experience and character.

Rachel, a girl of the city, moves to the Badlands with her Army veteran black husband, Isaac, whom she meets first when he returns from the war in Cuba and steals her heart with his blue uniform and proud carriage and gentlemanly bow and creased map of the West and dream of a new start. Isaac is "even taller and fairer than his mother," Mrs. Elizabeth DuPree, for whom Rachel works. Mrs. DuPree, the owner of the DuPree Boarding House for Negro Men in Chicago, the one with "standards" who takes only the men who work the day shift at the slaughterhouses. Mrs. Elizabeth DuPree of sharp looks and fine meals who feels responsible for "advancing the respectability of hard-working Negroes" and who--channeling some of the finest Jane Austen characters and transporting them a troubled century forward--will not likely forgive Rachel, a dark-skinned girl of lower class, for marrying her son--that ultimate betrayal.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Book reveals the worst of humanity....
Sad and moving story...revealing the worst of humanity....racism, prejudice, class, inequality.....book captures the cruel ness of all the topics, sadly ingrained in American... Read more
Published 2 months ago by terryanno
2.0 out of 5 stars unfinished...left me with lots of questions?
Is there a sequel? A very moving and graphic book at times, but needed to get to the point wicker and have some sort of closure
Published 3 months ago by Jo
5.0 out of 5 stars Prejudice, motherhood and history made personal to superb effect.
Wonderful novel: Prejudice, motherhood and history made personal. Never sentimental. The narrative seamlessly jumps back and forward in time, telling this emotion stirring story... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Bookness
5.0 out of 5 stars Lvely book, great story.
I read this in a very short space of time. Its the type of book that when you read it you disappear into it and then after you finish it you feel like you saw it at the cinema. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Linsey Muchene
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking
I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting to hear a settler's tale from a different voice. I can't imagine how lonely it must have been for a black woman settler in those... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Lea
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good read
Lovely writing that draws you into this gritty story about a black women who has been encouraged by a man she admires, but barely knows, to exercise her right with him to claim and... Read more
Published 13 months ago by J Hutch
5.0 out of 5 stars Rachel dupree
Loved it. It makes you want to cry for this woman. But admire her for her strength. Wished there was more
Published 13 months ago by Paula
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good read
I thoroughly enjoyed this story of a young woman's predicament as the wife and mother of a young family trying to survive in harsh conditions. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mrs S Galvin
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a very original story.
I seem to have read this story many times before. John Stienbeck, Pearl S Buck etc. Takes place in the deep south,PSB. in China,
Published 13 months ago by Hollywood
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written
This book seemed very accurate in it's detail, I found the whole book very depressing and I could not wait to get to the end, which I found rather unsatisfactory
Published 14 months ago by Annie Aldridge
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