Thursday, May 26, 2011
Book Review: A Daughter of the Land
Gene Stratton-Porter was a remarkable author. Her books are classic pieces of literature, and all of them have a very clear moral. I so enjoy reading books like this, where the main character actually has some sense of integrity and character and sticks with it. The main character is also human, however, and does make mistakes. All in all, Stratton-Porter's books are wonderful, and I have enjoyed each and every one I have read. The one I am going to review today, A Daughter of the Land, is no exception. While not my favorite Sratton-Porter (A Girl of the Limberlost gets that honor...will be reviewed in the future), it comes in a close second.
When Kate Bates is disowned by her father, she leaves home to go become a teacher and live the life she wants. She boards at the Holt's boarding house and meets George Holt and his mother. While it seems that Kate (the daughter) would be very happy living on her own, she is capable and does make quite a few bad choices, including the man she marries. After a course of events, Kate agrees to marry George, a lazy good-for-nothing who wants Kate only for her money, and quickly realizes her mistake. When George finds that Kate is actually disowned and thus has inherited no money whatsoever, his interest in her is quickly extinguished.
George repeatedly neglects Kate, sometimes abusing her, and is a terrible role model for the twins, Adam and Polly. Kate has no way out of the situation and keeps on keeping on, even when everything is going terribly wrong. George tries to become a doctor, but when a man comes into his office and needs help, George does not take the proper steps to aid him. Instead, he gives him the wrong medication and ends up killing him. He is told to take down his sign of "Doctor" and proceeds to work in a mill instead.
One late night, George becomes intoxicated and goes into the mill he owns, to try and do some work. Unfortunately, he heats the fire much too hot, kills himself and burns the entire mill. Kate, Adam, and Polly move back to Kate's parents' home, where her father has died. Kate's mother takes her in again, and things go smoothly for Kate...for a while. The story has an interesting ending, one that you could see coming, but you still didn't expect it.
The author's main theme in this book is to show that even after one makes a huge mistake, you can either go back and fix it, or live out your mistake with confidence and endurance. Kate does the latter, and it ends up fixing itself in the end. The book is written well, and keeps you always involved in the story. The story by itself is great, but the way Stratton-Porter wrote it, using details and fluent words, really makes the book come alive.
Growing in Virtue: The big thing to be learned from this book, obviously, is the importance of choosing well the one you marry.
The pain that Kate goes through when she makes the decision to marry the wrong man is crystal clear in the book. Stratton-Porter outlines very clearly how important it is to choose a good mate for yourself, and also to take a lot of time finding what his (or her) true character is.
Although this book is a work of fiction, I believe that the consequences of Kate's behavior is true for many people. Thus, I would say that the book is true in part. The part that is true is not the story, but the moral of the story instead. I really enjoyed this book, as I have enjoyed all of Stratton-Porter's works. I think that the lesson from this book for me and for lots of young ladies, is to carefully choose the man we marry. It's a choice that cannot be backed out of, and thus merits lots of thought and preparation. Parents play a big part in this too. They should help young ladies and men of marriageable age discern:
1) What their calling really is. It might not even be married life! It could be single life or a religious vocation.
2) If their calling is marriage, then what qualities/criteria must a suitor have to even begin a courtship relationship? That was one of the things that led Kate into all of the trouble she got herself into. She took the first high-falutin' man that came her way instead of looking deeper into his life. The really interesting part was that she did NOT like George at first, and he didn't like her. But when he learned that she came from a wealthy family, he instantly changed his behavior and 'got the girl'.
Sadly, that same sort of thing, just not that exact scenario, is occurring today as well. Ladies and men are taking the first person that comes their way instead of discerning together if they could have a successful marriage with each other.
The Catechism has some great things to say about marriage. Here is just one of the many, many things it has to offer, "The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children. Christ the Lord rasied marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament." [emphasis mine] Christ instituted marriage so that both persons could lead each other to a deeper, more unique relationship with their Creator! That can't happen if you aren't married to the right one, and some serious discerment must be in place for that to happen.
Well, there is my take on A Daughter of the Land by Gene Stratton-Porter. It's a fabulous book that teaches a great lesson. And by the way, it was written in the early 1900's...there is nothing scandalous contained. Definitely a great read!
This Saturday is PACKED so I'm not seeing a blog post...but you never know. Maybe, maybe not, that's all I'm going to say.