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Book Review

This Heavy Silence

by Nicole Mazzarella

Paraclete Press 2005

Reviewed by Roberta Brown, March 14, 2006

I chose this book to read because it was about farming.  I grew up on a farm, liked it, and was curious to see the author's viewpoint.  After the deaths of her brother, father, and mother, Dottie Connell continues to work the farm and make the final payments to her uncle Charlie, whom she despises.  Her friend Zella dies under suspicious conditions, leaving her daughter, Mattie, in her care.  Dottie, who has never married, must decide whether she should raise 8 year old Mattie or not.  She is pressured by family to turn that responsibility back to them.  She was once engaged to Mattie's uncle, Morris.  There is also the question of Mattie's inheritance.  The author's portrail of Dottie as a woman farmer is very good.  She describes farmers as I have known them; proud of the land, very independent, and willing to help the neighbors.  Dottie had two strikes against her, though.  Being a woman, and "trashed farming," which means the land is not plowed.  I like the relationship between Mr. Hilliard, the elderly neighbor who taught her how to farm, and Dottie.  Their gentle kidding and caring for each other was a nice touch.  The relationship that slowly grew between Dottie, Stanley, her hired hand of ten years, and Mattie was natural.  I enjoyed the dialogue between all the parties.   Farming is a good life, but it is a tough life.  Hard decisions must be made.  Loneliness must be dealt with, as well.  This book, in my opinion, was "right on."  I hope others will enjoy this book as I did.

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