Earth's Imagined Corners
In 1885 Iowa, Sara Moore is a dutiful daughter, but when her father tries to force her to marry his younger partner, she must choose between the partner—a man who treats her like property—and James Youngblood—a kind man she hardly knows who has a troubled past. When she confronts her father, he beats her and turns her out of the house, breaking all ties, so she decides to elope with James to Kansas City with hardly a penny to their names. In the tradition of Willa Cather’s O Pioneers! and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Earth’s Imagined Corners is a novel that comprehends the great kindnesses and violences we do to each other.
Set in the early factory cities of America in the late 19th century, Linse's novel tells the story of the sweet but sheltered Sara Moore, the daughter of a former Confederate colonel turned grocery magnate. Without a son, Colonel Moore has chosen his assistant manager, Chester, as the heir apparent to his grocery operation, and plans to marry Sara to the man whether she wants to or not. In desperate defiance, Sara flees with a humble laborer she's just met and promised herself to. The young couple go by train from Iowa to Kansas City where they hope to start anew. The couple faces great trials as Sara discovers for the first time what life is like for those not born into wealth and status, and her new husband, James Youngblood, searches in vain for gainful employment. The two grow as they struggle to survive, and the novel's pace slows as it descends, turn by turn, into dreariness, drudgery, and hopelessness, meeting each moment of opportunity with a despair that, while historically evocative and incredibly well researched, can become overwhelmingly gloomy. Still, this is an effective portrait of hardscrabble life at the turn of the century. (BookLife)