My thoughts Grist made me cry…twice. One might be lead to believe that this is a negative thing, but in this case, it is evidence of the truly poignant nature of this book and the effect it had on me.
First, let me share the passage that brought on the tears first:
He brought me home my children in the kindest, warmest way. As I worked with my hands in flour I felt them near me, held close in sweet domesticity. I could have spoken their names aloud except for my fear of breaking the spell. But my heart relayed the messages–lay the table, Daisy, and fetch us some fresh butter from the pantry. Then a little boy’s voice, Momma’s made a pie. As clear as though it had been spoken, Hughie to Alex, as they filled the wood box two sticks at a time, their little arms embracing the chore. They would be six years old now and dreaming of great strength. Perhaps I would have little trousers to mend that evening–I fingered the cotton of my apron–buttons on little blue trousers with a pocket for treasures. I sprinkled a pinch of cinnamon over the sweetened apples and folded pastry over the top. Baking in the oven next to supper, the aromas blended, transporting me.
This passage illustrates the author’s wonderful writing along with her skill with imagery, placing the reader in the character’s shoes. This passage would effect anyone emotionally, but especially those of us who are mothers.
As I was reading, I was reminded of just how few rights women had even in the 19th century. Sure, a woman was allowed more independence than in the past, as arranged marriages were almost a thing of the past and women were more free to pursue careers as teachers, etc. However, if a woman made a choice of a husband…accepted his proposal and married him…she was stuck. If she later found out that she made a poor match, it wasn’t so simple to walk out and file for divorce. Such was the case with Penelope, the stalwart and memorable main character of Grist. She finds herself in an almost unbearable situation with a husband who, though not physically abusive, is emotionally bankrupt and mentally abusive. And yet, she survives through all the heartache and loss. I so admired Penelope. Her story captivated me and had me rooting for her to find the happiness she deserved.
Grist is a fairly short novel at 232 pages, but it’s an historical novel that packs a lot of punch. I can honestly say that it will be one of my top favorites read this year. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Read this book!
— The True Book Addict