Today I updated my reading lists (on the right side of the blog), and I want to share a book I am now reading: The Quickening, by Michelle Hoover.

Ever since I began working on the book that only I can write, I have been on the lookout for other works that are based on or inspired by family journals or diaries, especially diaries by farm women. When I first learned about The Quickening and the fact that it was born of the journal of the author’s great-grandmother, I could barely wait to read the book. I have not been disappointed. Ms. Hoover writes with lyricism and grace of the lives of two farm women, Enidina Current and Mary Morrow, in ways that cut to the heart of passions particular to the Midwest. In the blog post “An Old Resilience: Writing and Familial Duty in Early 20th Century America,” she describes her great-grandmother’s temperament:

“For the most part, the pages show her determination, persistence, and toughness. Yet after I finished the last sentence, I realized I’d never before heard a family member cry out with such loneliness. I myself have tried to explain and defend what I consider a very Midwestern temperament ever since my move out east. I carry this temperament with me, both admire and try to break from it. In the novel as in its inspiration, extreme emotion is simply not allowed. Upbringing and values, family and town, even the surrounding landscape all support this resistance.”

I am nearly struck still and silent by this description, remembering one of Aunt Hattie’s entries from July 4, 1950, when she was 68 years old:

“…we had to stay home this late p.m. in such a beautiful part of the day, and I had such a lonesome feeling, felt as if we were entirely out of the world.”

My challenge is to capture that stark feeling in a way that is real and unsentimental. Strangely, as I read The Quickening, I feel none of the anxiety of influence I might expect, but am instead buoyed by Enidina and Mary and Michelle Hoover, knowing that these are the stories that must be written.

To learn more about The Quickening, visit Michelle Hoover’s website and watch this video where she discusses the novel and the journal that inspired it:

Oh, I almost forgot! Day 8. 🙂