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DSaff
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Thanks for the information, Anna_Louise! We are going to try it this weekend. :smileyhappy:


Anna_Louise wrote:
I forgot to post that I tried the recipe for Bilyi Borshch (even though it's 90+ degrees here in Maryland) and it was wonderful!!!!:smileywink:

 

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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DSaff
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

My family has similar stories and lessons from the Great Depression. Funny how "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" is so popular yet has deep roots!


blkeyesuzi wrote:

This family, at times, has barely any necessities--how do they make do?

 

This family makes do with only the barest of necessities.  They manage by repairing what they have, recycling items for other uses, and most importantly....being grateful for each other and for what little they do have.  The leather from Theo's shoes is used to repair halters and other leather items. Maria cans items from the garden and knits socks/mittens, etc to prepare for the winter, and Theo cuts wood.  Each member of the family plays a part in running the farm and preparing for the times when things are scarce.  Maria is also very careful in regard to rationing meat and other food items to be sure the family is fed.

 

Times like this make or break a family.  In my family's case, it made the family stronger.  The Great Depression affected my family severely and as a result, my great-grandparents and grandparents taught all of us to save and not to waste. There were times during the depression that they almost starved.  My grandmother talks about eating bread with syrup for every meal, since there was a factory nearby and they were able to manage getting syrup but nothing else.  Another grandmother told me stories about picking cotton in the Texas heat...she was only 7 years old when she was going to the fields with the rest of the family to work.   The men also sat at job sites waiting to be called up for jobs in the oil fields...all they could do is hope they would be fortunate enough to be chosen on any particular day. Steady work was hard to come by. They did what they needed to do to help the family survive.

 

The effects of the depression are still seen throughout my family when it comes to taking care of what we have and making the best of what is available.  Even though times were terribly hard on my grandparents, they speak fondly of those times because the family stuck together and found joy in the simple things.  I'm grateful to them for teaching me the value of family and how important it is that we NOT become wasteful or take things for granted. These are values I have passed on to my own children and I hope they will do the same when the time comes.

 

 


 

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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blkeyesuzi
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer


kpatton wrote:

blkeyesuzi wrote:

This family, at times, has barely any necessities--how do they make do?

 

This family makes do with only the barest of necessities.  They manage by repairing what they have, recycling items for other uses, and most importantly....being grateful for each other and for what little they do have.  The leather from Theo's shoes is used to repair halters and other leather items. Maria cans items from the garden and knits socks/mittens, etc to prepare for the winter, and Theo cuts wood.  Each member of the family plays a part in running the farm and preparing for the times when things are scarce.  Maria is also very careful in regard to rationing meat and other food items to be sure the family is fed.

 

Times like this make or break a family.  In my family's case, it made the family stronger.  The Great Depression affected my family severely and as a result, my great-grandparents and grandparents taught all of us to save and not to waste. There were times during the depression that they almost starved.  My grandmother talks about eating bread with syrup for every meal, since there was a factory nearby and they were able to manage getting syrup but nothing else.  Another grandmother told me stories about picking cotton in the Texas heat...she was only 7 years old when she was going to the fields with the rest of the family to work.   The men also sat at job sites waiting to be called up for jobs in the oil fields...all they could do is hope they would be fortunate enough to be chosen on any particular day. Steady work was hard to come by. They did what they needed to do to help the family survive.

 

The effects of the depression are still seen throughout my family when it comes to taking care of what we have and making the best of what is available.  Even though times were terribly hard on my grandparents, they speak fondly of those times because the family stuck together and found joy in the simple things.  I'm grateful to them for teaching me the value of family and how important it is that we NOT become wasteful or take things for granted. These are values I have passed on to my own children and I hope they will do the same when the time comes.

 

 


My father also grew up in Texas and picked cotton when he was young (born in 1919).  While growing up in the midwest, we went back to visit my grandparents in the home which was their original home of two rooms (kitchen, and living room/bedroom) with an outhouse and no running water for several years.  Eventually they added on an additional room for sleeping and a bathroom.

 

My father also washed and reused aluminum foil, twist ties from bread and his primary storage containers were washed out cottage cheese and margarine containers and empty bread bags.

Kathy


Kathy,

 

Yes, you've described my family to a "T".  Nothing went to waste, including the twist-ties, which proved to have various and sundry uses throughout the home.  Saving the butter containers made me laugh, as my grandparents, aunts, etc had huge collections of them.  Left-overs in the fridge were always a mystery and finding the actual butter or cottage cheese was a challenge! ROTFL

 

Thanks for the memories!

Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs
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Sheltiemama
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Regarding Maria, Anna and the children, I don't see how they survived while Theo was in jail, especially since Anna's husband seems to be useless. I find myself wondering if I could be as tough, but I guess you have just two choices: Survive or perish. And Maria is a survivor. I feel sorry for Myron, who has had to fill in for his father at such a young age and has a lot of resentment.

 

I want to know more about Anna. She fascinates me. She's obviously been abused and seems to have suffered a nervous breakdown. She and Maria are so different.

 

I loved the story about Lesya and Happiness the chicken. I'm going to be very disappointed if that chicken dies.

 

I was surprised at how quickly the family welcomed back Theo. It was touching how the family tip-toed around him while he slept for several days and nights, and how Maria took care of him in a motherly way.

 

I look around me, and I know I have way too much stuff. I can't imagine having as little as the family does. I've been very lucky, but I know as recently as my grandparents and great-grandparents, they struggled.

 

What do they do in spring and summer? They work! The story of plowing the land for the fields was incredible. Imagine having to remove stumps and large rocks. These people have almost no leisure time. Certainly the adults don't. All their energy is devoted to growing crops for survival.

 

I said, "Oh, no!" out loud when I realized this poor family, still smoky from the fire, had to endure a dust storm. How much can people take? I guess we're about to find out.

 

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ReadingPatti
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Debbie, I just started the book. I am trying to get a sense of what is going on. I am interested to know the dymancis of the family.  I get a sense that Tador is not sure where he is and Maria is a strong character.

 

Anna, I am not sure what I think about her yet. I am sure that as I continue reading, I will find out.

 

This book is not what I usually read but I like it so far.

 

This should prove to be an interesting read as I go on.

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pode
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Wow! We've got a good book here.  Engaging story, great character development, wonderful lyrical style. 

 

I believe this story and often I don't.  I'm kind of dreading the fall and winter however.  This life isn't going to get any easier and Stefan is already lurking......

 

Pode 

 

 

"Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?"
â Henry Ward Beecher
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dhaupt
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer


ReadingPatti wrote:

Debbie, I just started the book. I am trying to get a sense of what is going on. I am interested to know the dymancis of the family.  I get a sense that Tador is not sure where he is and Maria is a strong character.

 

Anna, I am not sure what I think about her yet. I am sure that as I continue reading, I will find out.

 

This book is not what I usually read but I like it so far.

 

This should prove to be an interesting read as I go on.


Hi Patti, the book is not of my usual either. But that's why I love FL it broadens my horizons.

 

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Shadowwolf36
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

There is not much more that I can say about these chapters that have not been said previous (late to the party as usual). My interest in this book originally was that it was in Canada. It is not normally my favorite genre but I can't believe the ease with which I was totally engrossed in the story. It took alot for me to put it aside at the beginning of fall...I so want to finish and see what happens to these two families. As I started reading, I started to thank God for what I have and to stop complaining about what I do not. It is amazing to me that to take two outfits for each child was taking alot of stuff. I love Maria's strength....I loved to hear her bartering her goods for more money and how cleverly she did it AND how she though ahead as to how the chickens would further increase her "wealth". I love hearing how they make use of every little possible thing.  I was not surprised at the ease with which they accepted Theo back into their folds...he went to jail trying to keep a part of what was his in the first place...They did not hold animosity for that. I feel for Anna....no matter the jerk her husband was....she loved him and made allowances for him until he did the unthinkable by raping her.....we are so much more "aware" of these kinds of rapes these days....in her time, she must have thought she deserved such horrible treatment....to her the child is a reminder of the rape and why would she want to keep it....I wish she would buck up now though and hope that fall and winter bring her back into the fold.....

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Zeal
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Well said!  I share your thoughts.  I admire Maria for her strength also.  She was courageous to barter and stand up for her family despite her inability to speak English well.  Maria could have allowed the language barrier to inhibit her, but instead she presents herself strongly and is very determined not to let the shop owner take advantage of her because of it.  I find this very admirable and can't help thinking about the Hispanic parents that I see at parent conferences each year.  They are definitely a minority in our district.  Some speak little or no English, and either bring an interpreter or do the best they can.  I really give them a lot of credit, and it is obvious how much they love their children and want a better life for them.  One family was even here illegally, but still came for their children...amazing!

 


Shadowwolf36 wrote:

There is not much more that I can say about these chapters that have not been said previous (late to the party as usual). My interest in this book originally was that it was in Canada. It is not normally my favorite genre but I can't believe the ease with which I was totally engrossed in the story. It took alot for me to put it aside at the beginning of fall...I so want to finish and see what happens to these two families. As I started reading, I started to thank God for what I have and to stop complaining about what I do not. It is amazing to me that to take two outfits for each child was taking alot of stuff. I love Maria's strength....I loved to hear her bartering her goods for more money and how cleverly she did it AND how she though ahead as to how the chickens would further increase her "wealth". I love hearing how they make use of every little possible thing.  I was not surprised at the ease with which they accepted Theo back into their folds...he went to jail trying to keep a part of what was his in the first place...They did not hold animosity for that. I feel for Anna....no matter the jerk her husband was....she loved him and made allowances for him until he did the unthinkable by raping her.....we are so much more "aware" of these kinds of rapes these days....in her time, she must have thought she deserved such horrible treatment....to her the child is a reminder of the rape and why would she want to keep it....I wish she would buck up now though and hope that fall and winter bring her back into the fold.....


 

"I learned to dream through reading, learned to create dreams through writing, and learned to develop dreamers through teaching. I shall always be a dreamer."
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misslynn
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I agree in regards to Lesya. She really words hard to do her share battling the fire- even though she felt "white" pain when her foot is smashed. She also takes her responsibility of the chicks seriously. Finding "Happiness" hidden under the floorboards in the middle of tragedy provides hope for Lesya. In "Happiness" she sees her own unwanted deformed self rise up against all odds. She no longer views her physical disability as something entirely negative.
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kpatton
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

My thoughts here don't exactly go with the initial posted question, but one of your comments made me think.
You commented that Anna was a prisoner to Stephan.  I have continued to wonder about the relationship between Teodor and Anna (brother and sister) where one appears so strong and the other so weak.  In their own ways they are/have been prisoners, and we are beginning to see how they both react to this situation.  Teodor keeps pushing on where Anna tries to escape reality.  They both carry the shame with them.
I'm trying to stay with the reading schedule so am just reading the Fall section.  I am interested to see if this brother and sister are as different as they appear at this time.
Kathy

Anna_Louise wrote:

My initial impressions of Maria are that she is an extremely strong woman who not only cares for her children but Anna's as well.  Maria is the glue that holds the two families together through everything before the story begins.  She is there for Anna and her children when Stefan disappears and continues to care for her own children while her husband, Theo is serving a prison sentence for a crime of trying to take care of his family in what was clearly a scam. 

 

Anna is clearly a prisoner to Stefan who doesn't know what to do and is clearly depressed.  Anna wants to escape with the coyotes and just run free and wild without any obligations.  She clearly wanted a differnt marriage than what she received and different children which is clear in how she treats Lesya.  Anna wanted a different life hence the depression.  Having myself left an abusive marriage after 15 years, I can understand how the depression of being beaten down affects you and your children.  Luckily I left while my children where infants (2 and 3 months old) so the affect wasn't as great on them as with Anna's children.

 

 

I was surprised by Theo's entrance but clearly he is a loving, caring father and husband.  I love how he truly cares about his children and Maria.

 

The difficulty they have as a family draws them closer to each other and helps them get through the difficult times.  without a family who truly cares about each other, you really have nothing in life as all the things that they did without showed us that they were still okay.  This is just one of the things that I truly loved about Maria especially (how she was able to take care of everyone with very little).

 

Thanks for letting me be part of First Look UTUS!!


 

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HannibalCat
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer


emmagrace wrote:

Wow! Awesome novel! This was not what I was expecting!!

 

My initial impressions of Maria and the children are that they are exceptional people. Their everyday lives are a struggle and yet they work hard together to make ends meet. I was very impressed by Lesya. Lesya has a crippled foot and has to deal with her mother's depression, but she works hard and acts as if nothing is wrong with her foot. She is a very strong young lady. Anna is a very sad and distant person and I am very concerned about the way she regards her children. She seems to blame them for things that could possibly not be their faults like existing for example.

 

Maria and her children came to live with Anna because Teodor was imprisoned and it was their only hope for survival.

 

Anna has distanced herself from everyone because she is so depressed. Her husband seemed to rape her on several occasions and it seems that she became pregnant with her children from these assaults. I feel like she, at least partly, blames the children for this. I think she wants to free herself from all of these "burdens".

 

I was certainly surprised at the warmth that the family had for each other! I was not expecting Teodore to be so kind and loving. He clearly loves his family and he works very hard for them. I suppose I was expecting some mean hardened criminal.

 

The family makes do by growing their own food and selling whatever they can to get by. I think it is sheer will and determination that helps this family to overcome everything that has come at them so far.

 

After the calamities in Spring and Summer, I think the family will do what it has always seemed to do - work harder to overcome everything that life has thrown at them.


I agree with much of what you have to say. I also was impressed with Lesya, what an incredible little girl. And Teodor. I thought he would be bitter. His appearance was so sudden and cold I expected him to be angry and beaten down. I did note expect him to put the effort into his farm - again - and to be so loving to his family. I was pleased to see that because it seems that their love for each other is the greatest gift they can give one another.
 I feel very sorry for Anna. I believe her to be a strong woman when faced with something tangible, such as the fire. She can be thoughtful, making sure her brother had a farm to work with, and she can be totally beyond reality. Her weakness seems to be at its height when there is nothing for her to do and she can think only of herself. And that is when she is most vulnerable and dangerous to herself.
The family as a whole is very strong with each member having their own strength. Precisely what is needed for the kind of life they are living.
I am really enjoying this book and the posts that everyone is sending. It adds so much to my enjoyment. 

 

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TriciaLynn77
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

So far I am really enjoying this book and I really Like Maria's character. I can definitley see her strength and wanting to provide and care for her family. While Teodor was gone she had to be strong to keep them going. I'm not sure how I feel about Anna yet, I don't think I will like her as much as Maria.
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literature
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Re: Anna

Hi BookwormVA,

I completely agree with you about Anna's disposition.  Somewhere in one of my posts I wrote that I felt that Anna had mental problems that stemmed back from before she met Stephan.  She was not happy with her lot in life, wanted to marry upward, live in the city and have things.  She did nothing to help better herself and her situation, wasn't even happy about having children.  Instead she wallowed in self pity and just became more and more depressed and uncaring.  She went deeper and deeper into her own world in order to escape reality.  I didn't like Anna at all.  I thought it an injustice for Maria to even waste food on Anna when Anna didn't care about life nor contribute to the family's well being.  But a character like Anna was needed in the book as a contrast against both Maria, Teodor and all the children's contributions.

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literature
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I, too, always post first, then read everyone else's comments so I am not influenced by anything I read.    But I go one step further.  I cut and paste interesting points into a word document and then keep them for rereading in the future.  I will sometimes reread the book after the book club and get so much more out of the book the second time. 
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literature
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Let me add one more memory to this growing list.  My mother saved all empty boxes, plastic bags, containers, etc. because if you lived through the depression you never threw anything out.  My mother once gave me a box of what I thought was tissues to send to my daughter in college but  I couldn't see the sense in mailing a box of tissues.  Maybe a year later, I was out of tissues and went to my daughter's bedroom to get "that box of tissues" and "that box of tissues" turned out to be full of corn bread  she had baked for my daughter.  Since I did not live through the despression, the box and the corn bread both went into the garbage.  The moral of the story...always check what's in a recycled box when you get it.
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Lil_Irish_Lass
Posts: 163
Registered: ‎11-21-2008

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I apologize if I'm repeating - I'm at work and don't have time this week to sit down at my computer at home and don't have enough time to read through 6 pgs of comments so I might be saying what's already been said.

First... am I the only one who isn't sure where the weekly reading cutoff is? I'm not exactly sure where I should have stopped so I'll keep my points vague in case I did read too far.

I think Maria and her family are the poster children for the typical family of the time who emigrated to North America in hope of a better life under the thin veil of "the streets are paved with gold" mythology. The life of a farmer in any country is a hard one but it seems like, at least in literature, that the families who survive do so because the head female of the household is determined to let no one starve to death and will do whatever is in her power to assure that everyone makes it through winter after winter.

 

In modern non-third world society it seems like as technology advances and life becomes physically easier and more comfortable that people lose this grit and determination - and that's a sad thing.

 

As for Anna... for every Maria there will be a dozen Annas within groups of settlers. It doesn't make them bad women, but they are weaker emotionally and therefore weaker physically. I really like how Maria handles Anna and quietly and subtly gets her out of the house and back into a farmer's wife routine. Once her hands are busy it's easier to not dwell on her situation.

 

I'll admit that this isn't a book I would have picked up in a bookstore as I tend to focus on Victorian Literature or modern novels in the same style over any other type of book. But I am fully enjoying reading UTUS and am finding it very hard to put down.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"No sensible man ever engages, unprepared, in a fencing match of words with a woman." - The Woman in White
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Sunltcloud
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Lil Irish Lass,

 

This is my second First Look and (after constantly thinking that I am repeating what's already been said in the first First Look) I have taken a new position. I write what I have to say and then I read the other comments. It doesn't really matter what's already been said, we all have slightly different ideas about the book. Then, after reading all the posts, I comment on those things that strike me as important or interesting, different from mine or alike.

 

Which brings me to point two. I love the way you write about Anna. Exactly what I thought. Not a bad woman. "Weaker emotionally and therefore weaker physically."

 

And the way Maria handles Anna speaks highly of Maria's intuitive sense of family and her caring nature.


Lil_Irish_Lass wrote in part:

I apologize if I'm repeating - I'm at work and don't have time this week to sit down at my computer at home and don't have enough time to read through 6 pgs of comments so I might be saying what's already been said.

As for Anna... for every Maria there will be a dozen Annas within groups of settlers. It doesn't make them bad women, but they are weaker emotionally and therefore weaker physically. I really like how Maria handles Anna and quietly and subtly gets her out of the house and back into a farmer's wife routine. Once her hands are busy it's easier to not dwell on her situation.

 


 

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KharaIn1derland
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Like others, I am pleasantly surprised by Mitchell's novel. The language is descriptive and I find myself picturing every morsel of food and feeling every breeze. I feel Teodor's frustrations as well as Anna's tortured soul. Maria is my favorite character, although I find myself understanding each person's thoughts and feelings, especially due to the manner in which Mitchell writes their perspective. This novel reminds me slightly of the Little House on the Prairie series, although with an adult twist. Does anyone else feel that way? 

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skiibunny1213
Posts: 39
Registered: ‎03-16-2009

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Hey guys,  Just a sidenote - I see some posts about feeling like you are repeating what others have already said.  I think that's really OK!  I think when a thought is repeated it means we are all experiencing some of the same themes/trends/thoughts, and for me it is just as valuable to know that as it is to read the new ideas I hadn't already thought of!  Keep it coming!