“Go Away Home” by Carol Bodensteiner is a beautiful book about a family in Iowa in 1913. Despite drama and tragedy they remain strong and supportive of each other. Young Liddie, the main character wants to move to the nearby town to train as a seamstress. Her character is like one of Jane Austin’s best (Liddie in one scene of the book actually does read Austin): naïve, innocent but also ambitious and good hearted. Her sister Amelia falls pregnant out of wedlock and her father gets seriously injured in an accident and suffers from concussion, leaving the family with a few problems to resolve.
Her brother Vern initially has issues with Joe, a German boy the family take in but the rivalry settles. The members of the family then seem to be going their own ways, particularly Liddie who starts to train as seamstress and starts to make a name for herself in town.
Bodensteiner has created excellent characters, likeable, detailed and full of life. They serve well to illustrate the spirit of the times, whether that be the morals of unwanted pregnancies, ideas about the vote for women or courting manners.
The descriptive details and historical accuracy of the writing is impeccable, in particularly the portrayal of farm life and of the boarding house that Liddie
stays in is very impressive and with a talent like this Bodensteiner makes it easy for her readers to feel as if they are in the place themselves.
There is a very authentic feel of the writing, it reminded me of the world of possibilities that America was in those days, not just for immigrants. Some characters move around the castness of the country to seek new opportunities. Liddie is young and she too has to make some decisions about her life and take chances.
The book is full of interesting side characters, be that an excitable friend at the boarding house or Liddie’s employer.
War threatens to bring the world upside down, the German sensitivities, the draft and evens ome opportunities force more decisions on the cast.
And then there is the matter of Liddie’s love life, her opportunities, her choices and her coming of age.
This is a wonderful family saga that with its love and attention to historical detail is nothing short of a magical step back in time. It shows us the happy and the sad aspects of life, many themes of the times and it does so with hope and a strong and positive message of optimism. A real feel good book.
Read the first chapters now: http://carolbodensteiner.com/go-away-home-a-novel/
The book has just been shortlisted as a 2014 finalist for the readers favourite https://readersfavorite.com/2014-finalists.htm
Carol Bodensteiner – Bio
Carol Bodensteiner is a writer who finds inspiration in the places, people, culture and history of the Midwest. After a successful career in public relations consulting, she turned to creative writing. She blogs about writing, her prairie, gardening, and whatever in life interests her at the moment. She published her memoir GROWING UP COUNTRY in 2008. GO AWAY HOME is her debut novel.