Prairie Widow

Harold Bakst, Author
Harold Bakst, Author M. Evans and Company $16.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-87131-694-3
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
Paperback - 150 pages - 978-1-59077-332-1
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A western devoid of violence and other typical trappings of the genre, this first novel seems clearly aimed at women readers--yet, equally devoid of any female sensibility, it has very limited appeal. In the 1870s, Jennifer Vandermeer, her husband, Walter, and their two children arrive in Four Corners, Kans., after an arduous journey from Ohio in a covered wagon. The pitiless climate, the shabby town with its false-fronted buildings and the endless sea of prairie grass fill Jennifer with horror; she snubs her new neighbors and longs for her old home. Meanwhile Walter insists on planting unsuitable crops and then works himself unceasingly until he is stricken with a fever and dies. Asked to teach school, Jennifer equivocates and lays plans to return east--plans interrupted by would-be suitors, prairie fires, unscrupulous land agents and a plague of grasshoppers. A static heroine, Jennifer does little more than whine between disasters, and her final thoughts of remaining on the prairie seem more the product of a broken will than of a change of heart. Although based on pioneer diaries, this slim volume misfires through its lack of authentic psychological drama. (Oct.)
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