It’s 30 colorful pages of book recommendations and dazzling travel photos:
... and much more!
This classic coming-of-age story (288 pages) was published in April of 2019 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics. The book takes you to turn-of-the-century Chicago. Melissa read So Big and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.
Meet Selina, a headstrong and heart-breaking heroine who perseveres in the face of grinding challenges of everday life as a truck farmer in early 20th-century Chicago.
Orphaned at 19 when her father is shot and killed in a gambling house, Selina Peake puts herself back together and lands a job as a schoolteacher in the farmland outside the city. Her education, her love of beauty, and her independent spirit are greeted with suspicion in the insular community — even after (or because) she marries a local farmer who’s kindly but ignorant.
Selina eventually joins her husband in his daily toil to coax food out of the soil of their farm. Despite the backbreaking work, her joy in life remains undimished. She burns with fire and curiosity and optimism, even when her life and livelihood — and that of her son — are threatened by the cruel twists of fate.
The story traces the contours of Selina’s life and her son Dirk, nicknamed ‘So Big,’ and is a vivid time machine to a Chicago that was a mix of thriving industry and struggling farmers, a city that promised opportunities for those willing to pay a steep price.
When Edna Ferber finished her manuscript in 1924, she wondered ‘Who would be interested in a novel about a middle-aged woman in a calico dress with wispy hair and bad teeth, grubbing on a little truck farm south of Chicago?’ It sold hundreds of thousands of copies in its first year and was published in Germany, England, Holland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Hungary, Poland, Russia, and Denmark. In 1925, it won the Pulitzer Prize.
This is a love story not about romance, but one woman’s unrelenting devotion to hope, beauty, and possibility.
Selina gave a little bounce of anticipation. She was doing a revolutionary and daring thing… For equipment she had youth, curiosity, a steel-strong frame; one brown lady’s-cloth, one wine-red cashmere; four hundred and ninety-seven dollars; and a gay, adventuresome spirit that was never to die, though it led her into curious places and she often found, at the end, only a trackless waste from which she had to retrace her steps, painfully. But always to her, red and green cabbages were to be jade and burgundy, chrysoprase and porphyry. Life has no weapons against a woman like that. — Edna Ferber
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.
We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.
This 30-page 2020 Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.
Content on this site is © 2020 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.