I love reading novels (heavy or not) that explore the emotional chaos of a woman’s life as a mother and wife. There is nothing like romantic ideation of the young, how assured they are that everything will work out just so, that love will always be as fruitful and lavish as the first blush of it. Here we are later, feeling crusty, dusty and distant and wondering ‘who the hell am I?’ At least Annie does, looking back on the start of her marriage and watching her own daughter’s bloom.
The cover captures the emotional landscape of this novel perfectly, and the story didn’t disappoint.
I was exhausted simply reading about Annie’s life. The moment she is looking at the wallpaper that she once hung that is now faded, feeling as colorless and leached of life as it, was a deflating moment. Life humbles you, if you’re lucky and unlucky both. Her children Fred and Birdie are such gorgeously fleshed out characters that I was heartbroken when they suffered. Seeing her young daughter so alive and hungry in her youth, the ache every young woman feels, that her mother’s fate could never be hers is such a poisoned arrow to the heart. Annie knows.. she knows in her wisdom that her daughter won’t escape the tug and pull of being alive, that everyone has their cross to bear. Her husband Samuel isn’t the young man she first fell for. She gave up a comfortable future in the name of love, shucking off her own mother’s life as a long suffering preacher’s wife. She has regrets, it is 1934 and the Dust Bowl is burying the future of her family. Her son is sick, her daughter is on the verge of incinerating from the fires of her first love, her husband is obsessed with rain and she is longing to feel electric again, to see if her barren heart can pump desire as it once did. Annie finds an escape hatch in the attentions of another man, but will he be her salvation?
Rae Meadows broke my heart, she made me thirsty for rain and love and made me feel a little battered and buried in dust myself. What a novel!