25 April 2012

The Personal History of Rachel DuPree; Ann Weisgarber

The Personal History of Rachel DuPreeThe Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This probably deserved more stars, but two things really bothered me: Rachel's passivity and the way much of the story played out in flashbacks.  Telling this as a straight narrative would have been just as effective.

It's not completely clear why - besides falling in lust? in like? in crush? at first sight with Isaac - Rachel decides to homestead with a man who clearly only wants her for her acreage.  She spends the next fourteen years trying to prove to him that this wasn't a mistake (that honeymoon scene where he admits that sex was not part of their bargain? should have been a huge hint to her that she was tertiary to his plans).  Rachel is like many women who feel that they married "up", constantly trying to prove herself to Isaac.  And until the great drought, she succeeds.

The drought, however, stresses the marriage in so many ways, and Isaac's pride that won't allow for even the slightest failure (or consultation with his wife), lead to her heading back home to Chicago.  We learn all about the tiny cracks, her growing doubts that this was the right choice, and watch her making the decision to leave.

A smaller niggle was that, with all this going on, there wasn't a real need to add the "agency Indian" prejudice to the mix.  I suspect it was done to ensure we got the fact that Isaac was a thoroughly unlikeable man, which then sort of undermines our understanding of what Rachel saw in him in the first place.

Copy provided by publisher.

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