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The Real Minerva Paperback – 7 Dec 2005

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • 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)
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Product description

Review

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.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Having enjoyed Mary Sharratt's previous novel "Summit Avenue", I was keen to read this one. I think it is even better than her first: the story is tightly woven and she involves you so strongly with the characters, that I gulped it down, desperate to know what happened next. The New England small-town setting and the small number of characters gives it an intensity that reminded me of Edith Wharton's "Ethan Frome". It is also very powerful emotionally - I found myself in tears over the breakfast table, as I read the last few chapters! Definitely a book that I want to keep and re-read.
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By A Customer on 29 Jan. 2005
Format: Hardcover
A short well written book that had me absorbed from the first page. Mary Sharratt knows how to provide a wealth of detail and feeling concisely; her characters were entirely believable. The novel is set in Minnesota, US, in the 1920s and is about three women at a time before contraception was the norm but when some women realised they could take control of their lives despite having to fight against the prevailing "gossipy" culture of a small town. I felt in sympathy with all the three women and I have to admit that I do enjoy happy endings which this book provides.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 30 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong women are interesting 13 Mar. 2013
By Smart Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a book for anyone who is understands that life is not a straight line. This is a book for anyone who appreciates that growth is messy. This is a book for people who value the amazing intelligence, courage and strength of women. This is a book for anyone who has suffered the stigma of not having a small enough world view to fit in and a large enough world view to prosper anyway. More books like this one please!
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and compelling 4 July 2015
By Kathleen M - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wonderfully written, full of suspense, tragedy, and redemption. The female characters in the story, from an infant to two teens on the opposite sides of society, to two very independent and strong adult women, mirror and complement each other. I don't want to elaborate on the characters and the story, but this is one of the best of the best. I literally had to read this in one sitting, the story drew mne in and wouldn't let me go. Wonderful.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read 25 Dec. 2013
By Lisa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book, and it did not get 5 stars from me only because I wanted more. I loved the women in the book, I loved their stories, but I wanted to know more about how their lives turned out. I wanted to know that Barbara eventually found love again and was happy. I wanted to know that Penny found peace with what she had done, and that Cora was able to let down some walls. Overall, a great book. Had a hard time putting it down.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tense, compelling read 18 Feb. 2005
By Penelope Embry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"She's your angel. She saved us both." These are the words we read in the prologue of Mary Sharratt's captivating second novel, The Real Minerva. The woman who speaks shows her daughter, the prologue's narrator, a photograph of the angel, "...taken before she vanished from Minerva and embarked on her long journey." From that moment, we understand that in this story someone will be saved, but something - or someone - will be lost.

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.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb novel in the finest-kind category 28 Aug. 2004
By KatPanama - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this novel in a single afternoon, utterly paralyzed by the consuming story. It's a wonderfully satisfying novel, descriptively rich but spare of conventional sentiment whilst achieving a holistic view. If you liked Kent Haruf's "Plainsong," then you are certain to be mesmerized by Sharratt's "The Real Minerva." And, if you hated the Haruf, you still should read the Sharratt.

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.
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