Friday, 28 November 2008

Daughter of Earth

Another vintage Virago from my local second-hand book store! Agnes Smedley's Daughter of Earth is the coming of age story of Marie Roberts, a girl of American Indian heritage who rises from extreme poverty to find a sense of self and purpose when she discovers socialism. It's also a semi-autobiographical account of the life of Agnes Smedley. It's certainly not a light read, but an absorbing account of poverty-stricken American families living and working on the land in the early part of the twentieth century. Reading this novel has made want to re-read Willa Cather and Louise Erdrich, powerful writers who examine the lives of those who live and work on the prairies and plains. Here's an extract from Daughter of Earth:
I recall a crazy-quilt my mother once had. She made it from the remnants of gay and beautiful cotton materials. She also made a quilt of solid blue. I would stand gazing at the blue quilt for a little time, but the crazy-quilt held me for hours. It was an adventure. I shall gather up these fragments of my life and make a crazy-quilt of them. Or a mosaic of interesting patterns - unity in diversity. This will be an adventure.

2 comments:

Justin Dery said...

what do you think the meaning of the "crazy quilt" is? What does it signify in the context of this novel?

Also in general what do you think the images/attitudes towards women were in this book?

Vintage Reading said...

Hi, I think crazy quilt may be symbolic of land acquisition?

I'm afraid the book is not fresh in my mind but I do remember the relentless hardship of the woman's life.