Saturday, December 3, 2011

Prayers For Sale by Sandra Dallas

It’s 1936 and the Great Depression has taken its toll.  Eighty-six-year-old Hennie Comfort has lived in Middle Swan, Colorado—up in the high country of the snow covered Rocky Mountains—since before it was Colorado.  When she first meets seventeen-year-old Nit Spindle, Hennie is drawn to the young grieving girl.  Nit and her husband have come to the small mining town in search of work, but the loneliness and loss Nit feels are almost too much to bear. One day she notices an ode sign that reads “Prayers for Sale” in front of Hennie’s house and takes out her last nickel.  Hennie doesn’t actually take money for her prayers, never has, but she invites the skinny girl in anyway.  The harsh conditions of life that each has endured help them to create an instant bond, and a friendship is born, one in which the deepest of hardships are shared and the darkest of secrets are confessed. 

One of the vehicles that keeps the book moving forward is Hennie’s stories.  While the story of the current day is happening, Hennie is always telling Nit stories of things that happened in Middle Swan in days past.  Hennie’s stories are a treat and you find yourself drawn in and then she comes back to the present and the story of the book is just as delightful. She also speaks in the jargon of the time and day.  She uses words like ‘harbornation” instead of ‘hibernation’ and ‘disremember’ instead of ‘forget’.   Lovely, lovely book.

Mormon Mention:  This is a new feature I want to try out.  When Mormons are mentioned in a book I am going to call it out just for fun.  In this case it was a very brief ‘mention’.  The women were having a quilting bee and the quilt had a cotton batten which was not common as they were expensive.  One of women mentioned how nice and easy it was to quilt, that the needle went through the material so easily.  She said she was glad it wasn’t made of overalls (which was a common material to use for the middle of the quilt) to which another woman say, “A Mormon blanket. That’s what you call an overalls quilt.”   Then someone changes the subject so you are never told anymore about why it’s called a Mormon blanket.  Anybody ever heard of it?

4 stars (Rated PG for topics only.)

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