Diane Scott Lewis
on Dec. 13, 2017 :
Elsie is the matriarch of a large Mennonite family in rural Manitoba, Canada. It's right after the end of WWII. She and her husband Ike manage a farm, and keep track of their many relatives who live close by. Hardships, a horrible blizzard, family discord, threaten to upset her dream of a peaceful life.
The prose is beautifully descriptive, though at first the story moves at a leisurely pace. Elsie makes a lot of coffee. Once the dog and lynx come into play, I was invested in the characters and interested in what happened to them. I learned about the Mennonite culture, their belief that animals are expendable and don't deserve the loving treatment we give our pets today. I was offended by the mantra that soldiers are murderers, when they keep our world safe. But it is a different culture steeped in strict customs.
The settlement in Paraguay, which I didn't know about, was also a fascinating, if brief, aspect of the story.
Elsie struggles to keep family and farm intact in an unforgiving land.
(reviewed 37 days after purchase)
on Oct. 24, 2017 :
BooksWeLove Inc dedicated this series to the immigrants male and female, who left their homes and families, crossed oceans and endured unimaginable hardships to settle in the Canadian wilderness and build new lives in a rough and untamed county.
Landmark Roses, named for the roses prevalent in the area, begins in autumn 1946 in Silberfeld, Manitoba where a community of Mennonites live. Before I read this novel, I knew little about Mennonites, some of whom fled from Germany to Russian and then emigrated to Canada.
German Grandparents Elsie and Ike experienced hard times, particularly when they went to Paraguay where farms had to be hacked out of inhospitable land, mosquitos plagued them, three of their babies died and one of their daughters suffers from recurrent malaria.
Despite the ups and downs of their lives the couple remain hard-working and cheerful with firm belief in their faith. Ike and his sons are farmers, Elsie and her daughters and daughter-in-law are busy housewives. They cook meals, make their own bread, butter, cheese and jam as well as growing vegetables and participating in other tasks on the farms.
I particularly enjoyed he author’s excellent word pictures, e.g. ‘God seemed all around her in the golden morning sunlight streaming across the land, the heady scent of roses blooming by the side of the road and later the sweet heavenly perfume of large clumps of milkweed where butterflies and bees flitted to and fro going about their business.’
The novel ends in 1918. In a brief span of time the author shows the joys shared by a large family, its sorrows and hardships such as the blizzard in 1947 which had a disastrous consequence. However, Elsie and Ike’s Christian faith and principles upholds them from the beginning to the end of this novel.
Landmark Roses provides an interesting glimpse into the past.
(reviewed the day of purchase)