Monday, January 5, 2015


"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." Henry David Thoreau. 

I recently finished the biographic novel, Maude by Donna Mabry whose main character pretty much fits the quotation above. If you are looking for an uplifting book, please pass on this one. However if you were curious about the lives of women in the early to mid 1900's, this will take you there. 

Maude is the story of Donna Mabry's grandmother who lived a life of quiet desperation that thankfully few of us know today. 

It was a time when women rarely worked outside of the home and were totally dependent on their husbands, good or bad.  They stayed in loveless marriages because there was no choice if they wanted to eat and provide for their children. They had no vote. 

Marriages were often arranged and the ages of the brides were frequently 
quite young. Maude was just 14 when her marriage was arranged, mainly because she was an orphan. 

I know my own step grandmother was playing hide and seek with her friends the morning of her wedding to a much older man she hardly knew. Women often went from children to wives in a day as they reached puberty. 

There were none of today's conveniences. Water was hauled, laundry was by hand, toilets out door, electricity not common, cooking was by wood stove and entertainment was either at church or via book.  

I found all of this very interesting and made me much more appreciative of my life today. That was not my main interest however. There is an honesty in this book that is not often found in biographies that often sugar coat the heroine's motives.

Maude had a very sad life but she is not portrayed as a sweet little woman. She has strong opinions and some rather strange reactions to her life. I think what shocked me the most was that while she had 4 children, she admitted only loving 2 of them. We are programmed to believe a mother's love is all encompassing.  Maude's was not. 

A lot of the characters are unlovable, including 2 of those children but especially her mother-in-law who was down right scary. 

 She loses 2 family members to the Spanish flu, which was brought home by soldiers from WWI, that took a million lives world wide. I know my own aunt fell victim to that same flu as a child.

The depression hits and she and her husband lose all. They didn't have a lot to lose but were comfortable. Now even necessities were a struggle to earn. 

Then as the depression ends, war comes to America via Pearl Harbor.  I know a lot of us think we are in hard times right now with employment still a problem for many, violence and wars raging around the world, but I think those folks held the bragging rights to what hard times really were.  

Today, there is employment or at least programs to help those in need. We don't have Hitler marching across Europe while killing millions of his own people, our food is plentiful and not dependent upon ration stamps.  We still have a volunteer army. 

If this were a fiction work, you would think the author had over done Maude's trials, but it is biographical which is really sad. Her life was only briefly shiny but she never quit trying to get by and make do. 

Not up lifting at all but a stark book about a time we are lucky to not be living in. It will make you very appreciative of your everyday blessings.

Maude passed with her song still in her but her granddaughter makes the song come alive and sings it not with flourishes, but with honesty. This is a trip through that not too distant of a time. 

Right now it is just $.99 at Kindle or you may find it at the library.  Hope you give it a shot.  

However when you read the last page, you might want to reach for a nice  fun book to cleanse the emotional palate and bring you back to your happy place. That is what I have done with  Midlife Cabernet:Life Love and Laughter after Fifty  by Elaine Ambrose.   A little irreverence is fun, sometimes needed and it is good to laugh out loud.  


  1. I will put this one on my Kindle and read it when I'm ready. I saw the movie "The Homespun" set in the 1800s and it was also very depressing, but well worth seeing. Thanks for the review, Patti.

  2. I think I might go straight for the lighthearted one!

  3. It sounds very interesting. I just started Unbound: A True Story of War, Love, and Survival. I am glad I was born in America and during this period in history.

  4. Sound like a book I will like. Better to charge up my Kindle.

  5. This may be a little to close to home for me. While the hardships in my own mother's life weren't nearly that bad, they were bad enough for me. I can't even imagine what my paternal grandmother endured with 13 childbirths and a mean husband in her life on an Oregon stump farm. I think I'll pass.
    But great review!

  6. Thanks, Patti. The subject of that book sounds all the more interesting because of her honesty.
    Interesting review and reflections.

  7. Both these books sound very interesting.....I must say I'm ready for the Comedy Relief portion of life right now, but MAUDE sounds like a really fascinating character! Thanks, my dear, for the reviews.....!

  8. My own grandmother was married off at fifteen to an older man, had five children and then ran away to Mexico. Altogether, she ended up being married four times and having ten children, half out of wedlock. Times were definitely harder for women back then. I doubt many women would willingly go back to those times.

  9. While we think it was tough back then it was often the norm and women did not have tnhe media showing them a fancy easier life that a few may have had. While our lives seem easier they are complicated by many gadgets and pressure to have them. And we are bombarded by media to eat junk and shop till we are hoarders. Different times brimg different challenges. How each woman aligns herslf to her time is her choice to some degree and being strong is what women do.

  10. I have this one on my Kindle but haven't read it yet. Just finished "Not My Father's Son" the memoir by Alan Cummings. Really liked it.

  11. It sounds like an interesting book. Unfortunately I don't have a Kindle and it isn't available in Kobo. I find "her"story interesting even if it isn't always pleasant to read. Thanks for the review - I'll look for it in my local bookstore.

    PS.You are correct, I'm told a year or two and one acclimatizes to the warmer weather so even a temp near freezing feels very cold. I hope I get to know that feeling!

  12. Thanks, Patti. 'll put it on my list. I wonder what those who say "Take America back!" actually mean. How far back?
    They have no clue.

  13. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  14. Djan,
    I know, these stories aren't uplifting but they do make us appreciative. I'll check out Homespun. Thanks.

    Don't blame you, humor is generally my first choice also.

    Thanks, I will check out Unbound. Sometimes we need a reminder of how good we have it.

    Ah yes, keep that Kindle charged. It is my most prized possession. Hope you like it.

    Linda R,
    Wow, 13 children would have been hard enough with out a nasty husband. Don't blame you for passing.

    Thanks, that is what kept me reading outside of learning about that era.

    I agree and humor is usually my first choice. It is a great follow up to Maude.

    Sounds like your grandmother had a story worth documenting. Those poor women were often given no options. So sad.

    Yes, the women in those days were strong just to survive. I'll take today's opportunities in a heart beat.

    Thanks, I'll check out Alan Cummings book. Enjoy Maude.

    Maybe the public library will have it. Good luck getting acclimated.

    I so agree. Who would want to go back to second class citizen category?? Not this gal.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  15. Putting it on my looong list of need to reads... Thanks for the review.

  16. Oh dear. I'm sorry, but I really need happy books right now. Still, I found your post extremely interesting, Patti!

  17. You should receive a payment for that excellent review. Hope I can find it in audio book form.

  18. What a great review of a hard time in history.

    My parents were Depression Era people. They have a completely different outlook from the latest generation. I also experienced some of this living in a rural area but because of hard work and making do, we never were hungry.

  19. This does sound like an interesting read. I feel bad for the women who had to endure hardships such as Maude. I can't imagine a youngster at 14 being forced into a loveless marriage, either.
    I often think about my mother who had a better life than Maude but still had to live without a working bathroom (unless you call an outhouse a bathroom!) and other modern conveniences for a number of years. Even after our new house was built when I was 12 or so, she still didn't have many things other women did. Her controlling husband (my father) put all the money back into the farm and only gave her barely enough to buy groceries, let alone anything extra, or let her buy a washer/dryer or new cookstove that she needed. She sewed most of her clothes and mine until I went to high school.
    I guess it's all what you get used to and don't know any better, but I am happy I don't live back in those days. Guess I've gotten soft in my old age!
    And, I'm afraid I don't have much sympathy for the young women today who say that they don't have time to cook and eat out all the time when there are so many things we have today that makes fixing a meal a fairly simple task.
    Great review, Patti!

  20. Happy New Year, Patti. Hope you are staying warm. I think I will pass on reading Maude, but I enjoyed your review. I know you are probably aware of Jonas Jonasson's (The 100 Year Old Man....) book "The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden." I got it yesterday for Kindle and am looking forward to reading it. If you've read it already, I'd be glad of a critique. Hope you are well.

  21. I enjoyed your thoughtful review of the book, and may well have a read of it. Although there is a lot wrong with the world these days, we also have a great deal to be thankful for... even for washing machines and vacuum cleaners! I am about half way through "One Summer America 1927" by Bill Bryson, and that has been a fascinating read.
    Happy New Year to you! P, L & NS xx

  22. Ms. Patti: This sounds like an interesting read. I'll grab it for my Kindle and then I don't have to depend on my "grey matter" to remember what great book you recommended.
    BTW Clobetasol Propionate ointment is what the Dr. prescribed. I hope your friend can get over her itches with it. Oma Linda

  23. This sounds like a great book, thanks so much for sharing.

  24. I'll download it and then read the second one also. Always like your recommendations...

  25. Brighid,
    Know what you mean. My list is far too long but I keep plugging away.

    They are my first choice also.

    Grannie Annie,
    Ha,ha I'd settle for my 99 cents back.

    Yes they do. I lived a portion of my life with outhouses and except for those cold winter months, it wasn't all that bad.

    I agree. They just have no idea what it could be like.
    Your Dad sounds like Maude's husband. The women of the day didn't have much say about finances or most decisions for that matter. Aren't we lucky.

    So good to hear from you. Hope you resolve to post more. You have been missed.
    Thanks for the heads up on that book. I loved the 100 Year Old Man.

    Yes, we do have it made these days. I will have to check in to that book you are reading. I really like Bill Bryson.
    Happy New Year to you,Laura and NS.

    Linda W.
    Thank you so much for the med info. I will forward it to my friend. She has had a real bout with it and like you with no relief. Thanks again.

    Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. Hope you enjoy.

    I thought of you on that second fun book. That author loves her wine and food.

  26. I'll add it to my Kindle list. Right now I am reading the Ivy Malone series again by Lorena McCourtney..I just downloaded two more of her books and those are next on my list to read. Not sure my mood can handle angst just yet, but Maude does sound like an interesting, but sad woman.

  27. As soon as I finish this comment I am
    Downloading these two books. Maude sounds like a fascinating read so I will read it first even though you know I love a good laugh.
    Like you I have enjoyed my Kindle. So glad you wrote this review because I am always looking for a good book and your friends have given me some others in their comments. I feel so lucky coming by here tonight.
    You always though write the best stories and I leave here wanting to read more from you.
    Yes I am afraid you are right about my jumping into the deep end with so much to handle right now but your right it will be ok.
    Take care and thanks again for the heads up on Maude and for sending me good thoughts about my new beginnings.

  28. I have this book but have not got around to reading it...too many books and too little time. But now more anxious to read it.

  29. I just found your site, and wanted to reach out to thank you for your kind words about "Maude". This is one of my mother's novels and she is so grateful for the support she has received from readers. Would you mind if I shared a link to your blog on her Facebook page?