- Paperback: 259 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (7 Dec. 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0618618880
- ISBN-13: 978-0618618880
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.8 x 21 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,626,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Real Minerva Paperback – 7 Dec 2005
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Second-novelist Sharratt (Summit Avenue, 2000) celebrates female grit as her three spirited protagonists challenge with courage-and a little firepower-the men and the society that wronged them. The setting is 1920s Minnesota, where the characters are as shadeless as the prairies that stretch to the horizon beyond the small town of Minerva. Thirty-year-old Barbara Niebeck keeps house for the Hammond family, and she's taken her 15-year-old daughter Penny out of school to help with the work. Bright and ambitious Penny resents being deprived of an education almost as much as she does her mother's affair with Mr. Hammond, whose wife has been in a coma for four years. (Barbara has never told Penny that her grandfather is also her dad and tried to drown her at birth, so she doesn't understand what her mother is up against.) When Barbara slaps Penny for criticizing her behavior, the girl runs away. Seeing an advertisement for a hired hand, Penny heads out to the Maagdenburgh farm to find the owner hemorrhaging badly after childbirth. She calls a doctor, cleans up the baby, and soon learns that Cora, a former socialite who dresses up as a man, has fled an abusive marriage and is terrified that husband Adam will come for her. Inspired by her new employer, Penny studies to become a nurse, cares for baby Phoebe, helps around the house, and learns to handle a gun. When Adam shows up, she acts to protect Cora, who then decides to flee to Mexico. Barbara is also in trouble, wounded by Hammond's deranged daughter Irene, who also shoots her father. But this is a story about survival, so the three women must be tough and resilient enough to move on. Shucking off their notoriety, they head for new destinations where more manageable challenges await them. Sort of tough women doing really tough stuff in a marshmallow sort of a story. (Kirkus Reviews) -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.
About the Author
MARY SHARRATT is the author of five critically acclaimed novels, including the Nautilus award-winning Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen. She is an American who has lived in Germany and England for more than two decades.
Top Customer Reviews
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The novel centers around the lives of three women - fifteen year-old Penny, her beautiful but emotionally hardened mother Barbara, and Cora, a wealthy socialite who has fled her abusive husband - living in Minnesota in 1923. These characters spring to life on the very first pages and from there grow in depth and complexity. Cora is pregnant, a secret she hopes her brutal husband will never learn. She plans to raise her child alone on her grandfather's farm. Penny's relationship with her mother is troubled in ways far beyond those of a normal young teen and her parent. Barbara is having an affair with the married man they clean house for, and Penny's disgust and disillusionment push her into a terrible quarrel with her mother. Penny runs away to Cora's farm in answer to an ad Cora has placed for a hired girl, and in this encounter we glimpse how deeply their fates are intertwined.
Sharratt masterfully shows us how the world sees these three women, how they see each other, how they see themselves. She depicts what we think we already know - that people judge us, that they see us through the lens of their own need to conform. But then she deftly pulls us into the shoes of both judge and judged
There is nothing extraneous here. Even the secondary characters exemplify change and loss and possibility. The story cannot move forward without them. Irene, the bitter daughter of Barbara's employer, along with Cora's husband Adam remind us the dark side of passion is rage. Cora's interaction with the migrant workers who come to help with the harvest shows us the woman she was meant to be. We wonder if this woman is lost forever, and the author means us to. Cora is at once driven and crippled by her fear and hatred of her estranged husband. She wants to save herself, but in the end she cannot. She is too broken. But more importantly, she is us. And through these characters we learn once again that we can run from our lives, but not from ourselves. We must face who we are and chose who we will become.
This story leaves its mark, a mark that honors those who are saved, those who save them, and the price each must pay. For in the end, there is always a price. The Real Minerva does not let us forget that.
Life in small-town in Minnesota was, of course, surfeit with gossip, hidden drama and repressed sensibilities. Sharratt's novel captures all of this but rather more in their grandure than their conventional tawdriness. Minerva is the most alive small town I know -- fictional or otherwise. The protagonists in this book will win your heart but not through cheap sentiment.