Friday, July 10, 2009

Off Topic---Novel: Prayers For Sale

Prayers for Sale, Sandra Dallas, 320 pages, St. Martin's Press, $24.95 Hardcover, $34.95 Compact Disks, 2009.

CWL bought Prayers For Sale on compact disk while driving back from New Orleans through Nashville. Reading the cover/box, my wife and I agreed that it would suit both of us for the next ten hours of the drive.

An unconventional friendship between Hennie Comfort, a natural storyteller entering the twilight of her life, and Nit Spindle, a naïve young newlywed, is forged in the isolated mining town of Middle Swan, Colorado, during the Great Depression. Both women have stories that are similar yet also diverge. The novel's time span is Civil War era through the Great Depression. Hennie Comfort's 86 years of solo and community quilting has allowed her to accumulate plenty of tales. As a Tennessee teen wife married to a teen husband immediately before the Civil War, through a migration to Colorado as something close to a catalog wife, through the late 1870s and 1880s gold rushes, Hennie Comfort endures the Rocky Mountain frontier.

During the winter of 1936, 17-year-old Nit Spindle turns up on Hennie's front porch; Nit is not unlike Hennie was when she was 17: a migrant from the South, a new bride who has lost a baby. Prayer's For Sale is a story of women's friendships. Where is the best raspberry patch? What stories in the quilting circle can be believed and what stories will never be told? And what about the town's prostitutes? Where any once married and in the quilting circle? Lost husbands, lost fortunes, lost children, lost limbs, lost loves may be the true history of this mining community. Nit learns both quilting and storytelling from Hennie and the quilting circle. The novel is about young woman finding her voice.

The author gathered enough history, dialect, regional metaphors and engaging characters to satisfy both CWL and his spouse. Some people have beach books. CWL has long automobile trip books. Another Sandra Dallas novel would do just fine.

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