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Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker

Winter Wheat (1944)

by Mildred Walker

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This is a beautifully written coming of age novel. Check out the Amazon.com review. ( )
  tkcs | Feb 23, 2019 |
”September is like a quiet day after a whole week of wind. I mean real wind that blows dirt into your eyes and hair and between your teeth and roars in your ears after you've gone inside. The harvesting is done and the wheat stored away and you're through worrying about hail or drought or grasshoppers. The fields have a tired peaceful look, the way I imagiine a mother feels when she's had her baby and is just lying there thinking about it and feeling pleased.”

Winter wheat, planted in the autumn endures through the winter to grow the next year.

This is a coming of age story of a young girl living on a dryland Montana wheat farm just prior to WWII. We meet Ellen Webb, preparing to go to college in the fall. There she falls madly in love with a boy from a totally different, more refined and educated background and the two are engaged to be married.

Her fiancé, however visits her home and sees only the roughness and hardships of the farm and the somewhat incongruous marriage of her parents; her father had been an educated man, who, wounded in WWI, had married the Russian peasant girl who nursed him. They had come to the isolated Montana farm when his family rejected their marriage.

Ellen for the first time sees her life through another's eyes and begins to question the surroundings she grew up with: the isolated unpainted house and her parents' love – or lack thereof - for each other.

She becomes a teacher in a one-room school for a year with pupils of all ages. When events there also take unexpected turns. Ellen begins to see her parents through yet another lens.

Although the novel twists and turns, there is a great deal of hope in this novel as Ellen sees that life doesn’t go as planned, but that persistence and enduring bring their own satisfactions.

This book was written in 1944 as a contemporary novel, although now, both the subject and the writing style give it the feel of an historical novel. The vivid descriptions of place and incidents as well as characters make this novel quite memorable. ( )
  streamsong | Feb 7, 2015 |
I read WINTER WHEAT probably a dozen years ago and have dipped into it a couple times since. It's one of those habit-forming kinda books that you want to tell everyone about. Ellen Borden is a character you'll admire and remember. Think Willa Cather in Montana and you'll be close to what kind of a writer Mildred Walker is. Highly recommended. ( )
  TimBazzett | Feb 26, 2013 |
Wonderful old-fashion book no four letter words, no violent sex and more smoking than drinking. It is the coming of age of Ellen Webb from innocent college freshman to the tradegy of living and finding out all is not as one expected. Not the depth of a Willa Cartha story but still a delightful read. ( )
1 vote eembooks | Dec 6, 2008 |
4071 Winter Wheat, by Mildred Walker (read 12 Sep 2005) This 1944 novel tells of Ellen Borden, daughter of a Vermont-born father who marries a Russian after
World War One when she claimed she was pregnant. They live on a wheat ranch in Montana and Ellen goes to college (seems like Minnesota) for a year, meets a guy, gets engaged, and then the guy comes to the ranch in Montana--where he decides he is too different from Ellen. There is much about wheat and hard ranch life. There is the standard Pearl Harbor surprise--novels in that time always had an account of how the characters heard of and reacted to Pearl Harbor--and an exciting account of a blizzard when Ellen is teaching in a one-room school in the Montana expanse. This was an easy to read book, not great writing but with some poignancy and kind of a relief from the objectionable features of some of today's novels. I had heard of the book back in 1944 and when I saw it was still on the library shelf today--when most novels of that time have long been weeded, I thought it must be worth reading. And it was. One would swear the author was raised on a ranch, but apparently she was not but that she makes the book sound as if she was and this is a tribute to her. ( )
  Schmerguls | Oct 17, 2007 |
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September is like a quiet day after a whole week of wind.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0803297416, Paperback)

For this Bison Books edition, James Welch, the acclaimed author of Winter in the Blood (1986) and other novels, introduces Mildred Walker's vivid heroine, Ellen Webb, who lives in the dryland wheat country of central Montana during the early 1940s. He writes, "It is a story about growing up, becoming a woman, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, within the space of a year and a half. But what a year and a half it is!" Welch offers a brief biography of Walker, who wrote nine of her thirteen novels while living in Montana.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:00 -0400)

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