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One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow

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From the bestselling author of The Ragged Edge of Night comes a powerful and poetic novel of survival and sacrifice on the American frontier. Wyoming, 1870. For as long as they have lived on the frontier, the Bemis and Webber families have relied on each other. With no other settlers for miles, it is a matter of survival. But when Ernest Bemis finds his wife, Cora, in a From the bestselling author of The Ragged Edge of Night comes a powerful and poetic novel of survival and sacrifice on the American frontier. Wyoming, 1870. For as long as they have lived on the frontier, the Bemis and Webber families have relied on each other. With no other settlers for miles, it is a matter of survival. But when Ernest Bemis finds his wife, Cora, in a compromising situation with their neighbor, he doesn’t think of survival. In one impulsive moment, a man is dead, Ernest is off to prison, and the women left behind are divided by rage and remorse. Losing her husband to Cora’s indiscretion is another hardship for stoic Nettie Mae. But as a brutal Wyoming winter bears down, Cora and Nettie Mae have no choice but to come together as one family—to share the duties of working the land and raising their children. There’s Nettie Mae’s son, Clyde—no longer a boy, but not yet a man—who must navigate the road to adulthood without a father to guide him, and Cora’s daughter, Beulah, who is as wild and untamable as her prairie home. Bound by the uncommon threads in their lives and the challenges that lie ahead, Cora and Nettie Mae begin to forge an unexpected sisterhood. But when a love blossoms between Clyde and Beulah, bonds are once again tested, and these two resilient women must finally decide whether they can learn to trust each other—or else risk losing everything they hold dear.


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From the bestselling author of The Ragged Edge of Night comes a powerful and poetic novel of survival and sacrifice on the American frontier. Wyoming, 1870. For as long as they have lived on the frontier, the Bemis and Webber families have relied on each other. With no other settlers for miles, it is a matter of survival. But when Ernest Bemis finds his wife, Cora, in a From the bestselling author of The Ragged Edge of Night comes a powerful and poetic novel of survival and sacrifice on the American frontier. Wyoming, 1870. For as long as they have lived on the frontier, the Bemis and Webber families have relied on each other. With no other settlers for miles, it is a matter of survival. But when Ernest Bemis finds his wife, Cora, in a compromising situation with their neighbor, he doesn’t think of survival. In one impulsive moment, a man is dead, Ernest is off to prison, and the women left behind are divided by rage and remorse. Losing her husband to Cora’s indiscretion is another hardship for stoic Nettie Mae. But as a brutal Wyoming winter bears down, Cora and Nettie Mae have no choice but to come together as one family—to share the duties of working the land and raising their children. There’s Nettie Mae’s son, Clyde—no longer a boy, but not yet a man—who must navigate the road to adulthood without a father to guide him, and Cora’s daughter, Beulah, who is as wild and untamable as her prairie home. Bound by the uncommon threads in their lives and the challenges that lie ahead, Cora and Nettie Mae begin to forge an unexpected sisterhood. But when a love blossoms between Clyde and Beulah, bonds are once again tested, and these two resilient women must finally decide whether they can learn to trust each other—or else risk losing everything they hold dear.

30 review for One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow

  1. 4 out of 5

    Berit☀️✨

    Olivia Hawker’s descriptive storytelling Whisked me away to 1870s Wyoming. Gritty and raw this is a tale about resilience, acceptance, and forgiveness. Two families living on the Wyoming Prairie with their nearest neighbors over 20 miles away. When the husband of one family and the wife of another are caught in a compromising position. One man is killed and the other man is sent to jail, leaving the women Cora and Nettie Mae to pick up the pieces. Life on the frontier is hard and these women Olivia Hawker’s descriptive storytelling Whisked me away to 1870s Wyoming. Gritty and raw this is a tale about resilience, acceptance, and forgiveness. Two families living on the Wyoming Prairie with their nearest neighbors over 20 miles away. When the husband of one family and the wife of another are caught in a compromising position. One man is killed and the other man is sent to jail, leaving the women Cora and Nettie Mae to pick up the pieces. Life on the frontier is hard and these women have to find a way past their grief, guilt, and hurt and help each other survive. The strength of the story was in these characters. They will tug at your heart strings, you will cry with them, you will sweat with them, you will laugh with them, and you’ll pray with them. The main focus of the story for me was Beulah. Beulah was such a free spirit with a spark of magic. This was a quiet understated story that was loosely based on the author’s own family history. Sometimes it’s just nice to cozy up with a good book! An old fashion well told story full of colorful characters and descriptive writing that envelops you. This book in three emojis: 💪🏻 👩🏼‍🌾 🙏🏻 *** Big thanks to Lake Union for my copy of this book ***

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    I’ve always loved historical fiction set in the pioneering western US. One for the Blackbird is set in Wyoming in 1870. The Bemis and Webber families rely on each other for survival. There’s no one else around, so they need each other. Ernest finds his wife, Cora, cheating with their neighbor, and now, Ernest is in prison with the two women left to survive on their own. Of course, Cora and Nettie Mae have unsettled feelings between them, but when winter comes, they are forced together to tend the I’ve always loved historical fiction set in the pioneering western US. One for the Blackbird is set in Wyoming in 1870. The Bemis and Webber families rely on each other for survival. There’s no one else around, so they need each other. Ernest finds his wife, Cora, cheating with their neighbor, and now, Ernest is in prison with the two women left to survive on their own. Of course, Cora and Nettie Mae have unsettled feelings between them, but when winter comes, they are forced together to tend the land and care for their children. Two of their children are teenagers, though, and they fall in love. This relationship tests the women further. Olivia Hawker’s writing is beautifully descriptive of the land and its people. I love that the story was loosely inspired by her own family. I adored these two families and the strong women. One for the Blackbird is a tender story of forgiveness with the hard prairie life as a backdrop. I enjoyed every bit of it. I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com

  3. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    This book took me back to the prairie.. I haven’t really revisited since my days as a young girl when I read every single Little House book available! This time it’s 1870, rugged and isolated Wyoming. Two families who live on neighboring farms miles away from the closest town. Cora who was raised in the city is lonely and has a dalliance with her neighbor Nettie Mae’s husband Substance. Ernest, Cora’s husband comes across the pair at the river and in an act of passion, shoots Substance. Substance This book took me back to the prairie.. I haven’t really revisited since my days as a young girl when I read every single Little House book available! This time it’s 1870, rugged and isolated Wyoming. Two families who live on neighboring farms miles away from the closest town. Cora who was raised in the city is lonely and has a dalliance with her neighbor Nettie Mae’s husband Substance. Ernest, Cora’s husband comes across the pair at the river and in an act of passion, shoots Substance. Substance dies and Ernest goes to jail. The winter is coming and these women must unite their families to survive, and it is extremely difficult with all the anger and anguish to compound the situation. I really enjoyed this story. It ended up pulling at my heart strings... it was scenic, a story of female survival on the frontier.. a story of forgiveness Thank you to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for the ARC!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow is a captivating western family saga that begins with betrayal and heartache, and ends with forgiveness and a sisterly friendship. Set in the 1870 eastern Wyoming prairie in the shadow of the Bighorn Mountains, two families with adjoining homesteads, the nearest town or neighbor twenty miles away, are broken and left without the leadership of their men when one catches his wife and neighbor in a compromising position. With one husband in jail for two years One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow is a captivating western family saga that begins with betrayal and heartache, and ends with forgiveness and a sisterly friendship. Set in the 1870 eastern Wyoming prairie in the shadow of the Bighorn Mountains, two families with adjoining homesteads, the nearest town or neighbor twenty miles away, are broken and left without the leadership of their men when one catches his wife and neighbor in a compromising position. With one husband in jail for two years for the other husband’s murder, alone and out of necessity, mother’s Cora and Nettie Mae have to turn to each other to survive their long harsh winter. One mother to lessen the heavy farmwork burden on her only son, the other for her four children’s survival. Olivia Hawker’s poetic writing transported me back in time to the wide-open prairie with its flora and fauna, the river and mountains in the backdrop. It was interesting to learn how the weather and changing seasons affected people living on the prairie back then, and the hard work it took to survive. Based loosely off events of the authors family history, it’s a wonderful novel I highly recommend! Much thanks to Olivia Hawker, Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for this arc in exchange for an honest review. Publication date 10/8/19

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nursebookie

    I LOVED THIS BOOK! Everybody, this is a must read!! Hawker is an incredible storyteller and in this entanglement of words have created this literary masterpiece. 5 solid stars Wyoming, 1876. The Bemis (Ernest/Cora and daughter Beulah) and Webber (Substance/Nettie Mae and son Clyde) have relied on each other for survival. But when Ernest Bemis finds his wife, Cora with Substance, Ernest kills him. While Ernest is in prison, the women left behind, despite their feelings of anger and shame, they I LOVED THIS BOOK! Everybody, this is a must read!! Hawker is an incredible storyteller and in this entanglement of words have created this literary masterpiece. 5 solid stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Wyoming, 1876. The Bemis (Ernest/Cora and daughter Beulah) and Webber (Substance/Nettie Mae and son Clyde) have relied on each other for survival. But when Ernest Bemis finds his wife, Cora with Substance, Ernest kills him. While Ernest is in prison, the women left behind, despite their feelings of anger and shame, they must live together in one roof to survive the harsh winter. Their children Clyde and Beulah inevitably start to develop feelings for each other. Right from the start, the premise pulled me in to this shockingly wonderful story of infidelity and betrayal, love- lost and love-found, unusual friendships, strength of women, survival and forgiveness. I enjoyed the beautiful and vivid descriptions of the mundane life in the frontier; herding sheep, birthing sheep, milking cows, tending crops, making bread and pork fat just frying for breakfast. At one point while I was reading, I had to stop and actually made cheddar biscuits before resuming to read the book. 😂😂 I was so sucked in with their lives I wanted to be so much a part of it. Hawker is unbelievably talented to be able to tell such a heartbreaking story about the lives of two families living in the isolated area of the Wyoming Frontier in the 1870’s.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow is a lyrically written story of 1870's Wyoming and the hardships of two tragically connected families. This is a story of healing and hope. Olivia Hawker's beautiful writing is a story to be savored!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mackenzie - PhDiva Books

    Set on the prairie in Wyoming in the late nineteenth century, One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow tells the story of two women who must learn to rely on one another for their families to survive in the wake of a terrible betrayal and tragedy. When Cora’s husband catches her having an affair with Nettie Mae’s husband, he shoots him and ends up in prison. Now, with no other neighbors around for miles, Nettie Mae and Cora will need to overcome their differences to make it through winter. Olivia Set on the prairie in Wyoming in the late nineteenth century, One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow tells the story of two women who must learn to rely on one another for their families to survive in the wake of a terrible betrayal and tragedy. When Cora’s husband catches her having an affair with Nettie Mae’s husband, he shoots him and ends up in prison. Now, with no other neighbors around for miles, Nettie Mae and Cora will need to overcome their differences to make it through winter. Olivia Hawker’s latest historical fiction novel is a quietly beautiful story of forgiveness. Going in, I expected to find it hard to sympathize with Cora. Cora’s loneliness certainly led her to a decision that ultimately ruined the lives of many people. But I didn’t find Cora to be a bad person. In fact, I found the way she handled herself to be filled with a surprising amount of grace. I would like to have seen more about the before Cora. But the Cora we saw was someone who really just seemed to have lost their way. Surprisingly, I found Nettie Mae harder to love, though as the book went on I really did appreciate her growth. Nettie Mae held a lot of bias. Her perception of Cora was understandable, but I struggled a bit with how she treated Cora’s children—especially Beulah. Nettie Mae has a very limited view of the world and others. This felt understandable given that the life she has known has been very isolated. I liked seeing her learn more about tolerance as the story evolved. This is definitely a story about survival, tolerance, unrecognized bias, forgiveness, and community. The setting on the prairie was really wonderful, and we got a lot of story elements around how these family survive without the men of the house who had previously done the bulk of the work. I loved how real and flawed the characters were. I also loved the main protagonist Beulah. She was self-assured, smart, steady, and a tiny bit magical. A beautiful and heartfelt novel that I really enjoyed. Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Lake Union Publishing for my copy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    It has been a long time since I have read a book that captivated me as much as this one. Every word was poetry and every page made me want to hurry and get to the next one, yet, I had to savor each one I was on. This is a book about sin, and redemption and wounds and healing and love and an awareness of everything under the sun. Simple people, broken dreams and the beauty of the world around and its healing touch. Read this book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Penny

    One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow is a book about loss and survival in the vast expanse of Wyoming. Two families, the Bemises and the Webbers, have settled on land adjacent to each other miles from anywhere or anyone else. In the opening chapter we discover that the Mrs Bemis has had an affair with Mr Webber and is discovered by her husband who promptly murders Mr Webber. The story however does not dwell so much on this act but on what happens next to the women and children left behind. The One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow is a book about loss and survival in the vast expanse of Wyoming. Two families, the Bemises and the Webbers, have settled on land adjacent to each other miles from anywhere or anyone else. In the opening chapter we discover that the Mrs Bemis has had an affair with Mr Webber and is discovered by her husband who promptly murders Mr Webber. The story however does not dwell so much on this act but on what happens next to the women and children left behind. The power of this book comes from the way the author brings her characters to life. Our main protagonist is Beulah Bemis age 13. She is the eldest of the Bemis children. Smart, capable, but dreamy and a little magical. Beulah sees and notices what others don't. Beulah is the lynchpin of the story. Her mother Cora can't bear her new existence in the wilderness. Cora however has to turn to Nettie Mae Webber and ask for help if she and her children are to survive the harsh winter. Olivia Hawker takes a character that is flawed and 'weak' and asks her reader to empathise with her. At first I felt no sympathy for Cora but as the story progresses my feelings towards her softened. The wronged woman, Nettie Mae, is bristling with anger, resentment, heart, loss and humiliation. She is as prickly as a thorn and not easy to love in any way. What a wonderful, powerful and unique character she was! For me Nettie Mae is the star of the book - a woman wronged in so many ways who has hardened her hurt in order to survive. She must take in those who have caused her to be in a dire predicament and we follow her struggle to cope with all the Bemis family. But Nettie Mae is above all else a mother.. She must protect her only surviving child Clyde at all costs even when it causes her great difficulty. The story moves quickly but is also detailed. I felt totally engrossed in the whole world of the farms, the animals, the landscape and the weather and of course this collection of characters.. I highly recommend this.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Karren Sandercock

    Thanks so much to NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing and Olivia Hawker for giving me the opportunity to read her new book: One For The Blackbird, One For The Crow. I have read her previous book, The Ragged Edge Of Night and I loved it. Wyoming prairie in 1876, two isolated farming families live next door to each other and one night all hell breaks loose. When Ernest Bemis discovers his wife Cora and his neighbor Substance Webber cheating! The meek mild Ernest shoots Substance and kills him. He Thanks so much to NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing and Olivia Hawker for giving me the opportunity to read her new book: One For The Blackbird, One For The Crow. I have read her previous book, The Ragged Edge Of Night and I loved it. Wyoming prairie in 1876, two isolated farming families live next door to each other and one night all hell breaks loose. When Ernest Bemis discovers his wife Cora and his neighbor Substance Webber cheating! The meek mild Ernest shoots Substance and kills him. He rides to the closest town, he informs the local sheriff about his crime and is jailed for two years. Nettie Mae Webber is now a widow with a farm and animals to look after with only her 16 year old son Clyde to help her. Cora Bemis has to live with her guilt and shame. Life on the prairie is hard and she only has herself to blame, her four children Beulah, Benjamin, Charles and Miranda need her. Soon it becomes very clear that Cora is going to struggle to survive the harsh winter on her own, she's isn't at all prepared, she has no money and the only person she can ask for help is her neighbor Nettie Mae! After Clyde becomes ill, Nettie Mae accepts that keeping two farms going is too hard for her teenage son, the two families have no choice but to join forces and Bemis family moves into the Webber house hold. They begin to prepare for the long hard winter, harvesting vegetables, preserving food, cutting and seasoning fire wood. Despite combining the food/supplies they have, both women are concerned that cupboards will be empty before the end of winter and their children will go hungry. For both women living in the same house over winter is going to be a challenge and Nettie Mae has every right to hate Cora! Nettie Mae isn't as stern as she seems, she's a natural home maker and she loves children. Cora isn't a bad person, she wasn't prepared for the lonely isolated life on the remote prairie, the responsibility of motherhood, Substance took advantage of her weakness and she has to live with her shame of her infidelity. The story is about two women struggling to live and keep their children safe in a harsh environment of the Wyoming prairie, how they cope with being isolated from the outside world for months during the harsh winter, they discover by working together they can survive the long winter, they do manage to keep their children safe and they become friends. I really enjoyed reading One For The Blackbird, One For The Crow, I gave it four stars, I will share my review on Goodreads, Twitter, Barnes & Noble and my blog. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/

  11. 5 out of 5

    Karren Sandercock

    Thanks so much to NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing and Olivia Hawker for giving me the opportunity to read her new book One For The Blackbird, One For The Crow. I read her previous book, The Ragged Edge Of Night and I loved it. Wyoming prairie in 1876, two isolated farming families live next door to each other and one night all hell breaks loose. When Ernest Bemis discovers his wife Cora and his neighbor Substance Webber cheating! The meek mild Ernest shoots Substance and kills him. He rides to Thanks so much to NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing and Olivia Hawker for giving me the opportunity to read her new book One For The Blackbird, One For The Crow. I read her previous book, The Ragged Edge Of Night and I loved it. Wyoming prairie in 1876, two isolated farming families live next door to each other and one night all hell breaks loose. When Ernest Bemis discovers his wife Cora and his neighbor Substance Webber cheating! The meek mild Ernest shoots Substance and kills him. He rides to the closest town, he informs the local sheriff about his crime and he's jailed for two years. Nettie Mae Webber is now a widow with a farm, animals to look after and her only help is her 16 year old Clyde. Cora Bemis now has to live with her guilt, shame and life on the prairie is very hard. Her four children Beulah, Benjamin, Charles and Miranda need her and they no longer have their father to do the heavy work. Soon it becomes very clear that Cora is going to struggle to survive the harsh winter on her own, she's not prepared at all, she has no money to buy supplies, she doesn't have enough fire wood and the only person she can ask for help is her neighbor Nettie Mae! After Clyde becomes ill, Nettie Mae accepts that keeping two farms going is too hard for her teenage son, the two families have no choice but to join forces and Bemis family moves into the Webber house hold. They begin to prepare for the long hard winter, harvesting vegetables, preserving food, cutting and seasoning fire wood. Despite combining the food/supplies they have both women are concerned that cupboards will be empty before the end of winter and their children will go hungry. For both women living in the same house over winter is going to be a challenge and Nettie Mae has every right to hate Cora! Nettie Mae isn't as stern as she seems, she's a natural home maker and she loves children. Cora isn't a bad person, she wasn't prepared for the lonely isolated life on the remote prairie, Substance took advantage of her weakness and she has to live with her shame of her infidelity. The story is about two women struggling to live and keep their children safe in such a harsh environment, how they cope with being totally isolated for months, how they discovered by working together they could survive the long winter, it's about forgiving someone who has betrayed you and giving them a second chance. I really enjoyed reading One For The Blackbird, One For The Crow and I gave it four stars. I have shared my review on Goodreads, NetGalley, Twitter and my blog. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/

  12. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Thank you Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC. This book started out with so much promise but ended up getting bogged down in the details. I understand that Wyoming 1870 is going to be difficult but the pages and pages of sheep and lambs were too much. Olivia Hawker can definitely write and I will give her another chance but this book seriously was too long by half.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Janette Mcmahon

    Hawker has a powerful book of friendships that come out of necessity and the hardships of living in a remote area of the country. This novel had more than one interesting theme carrying the reader on the winds that rushed through these pages; female friendship, loneliness, parenting, and even a bit of other-worldliness. Highly recommend to readers of Sharon McCrumb's books set in Appalachia and Western women's fiction.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    By far my favorite read of 2019. Swoon.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Asheley

    Edit: After finishing this several weeks ago, I restarted it and read it super slowly. Savored the story and the language. My gosh, this book is so good. I felt the tension between Cora and Nettie Mae even more than in the first read, I felt all of the heartache and then the hope from start to finish, and I fell head-over-heels in love with the isolation and harshness of the Wyoming prairie. Since I enjoyed the book so much, enough to read it again immediately, and since I feel lost now that I'm Edit: After finishing this several weeks ago, I restarted it and read it super slowly. Savored the story and the language. My gosh, this book is so good. I felt the tension between Cora and Nettie Mae even more than in the first read, I felt all of the heartache and then the hope from start to finish, and I fell head-over-heels in love with the isolation and harshness of the Wyoming prairie. Since I enjoyed the book so much, enough to read it again immediately, and since I feel lost now that I'm done with my reread: I'm bumping my rating up from 4/5 to 5/5. ********* I’ve said before that books set out in the American West during the 1800’s are my FAVORITE. This story is set in Wyoming in the 1870’s. There are two families living in proximity to one another in the shadow of the Bighorn Mountains: the Bemis family and the Webber family. There is no one else within at least twenty miles in any direction. The two families, although not close at all, have come to depend on the fact that they are near one another if anyone should need anything. All of that changes when Ernest Bemis shoots and kills Substance Webber down by the river and then goes to prison for murder. This isn’t a story about that murder, although it happens early on and is felt throughout the story. This is a story of how two families with all of the tension and emotion in the world goes on to make it through the long, cold winter without the men of their houses. This is a story about the forgiveness that comes-or doesn’t come-after such sin. Sixteen-year-old Clyde Webber takes on the burden of the heavy work at both homesteads, much to the angst and disagreement of his mother, because he can see how much the Bemis family needs him. And Beulah Bemis, just thirteen, takes to helping him. Beulah is much stronger and dependable than she appears. There is a tension that weaves through reading this story. Cora’s guilt and remorse is heavy in the her POV. I love that I could feel the weight of her remorse over how her actions had completely changed two entire families. It seems like when I read stories that include infidelity, the ones involved do not always show remorse-the people in the relationship don’t always try to fix the harm they have caused. But that is written exceptionally well into the narrative here, and is probably why I felt so strongly for Cora. Nettie Mae Webber, now a widow, was much harder to love and care for at first. She was so rude and angry and nasty at times that I could barely stand to read her scenes on the page. I would have thought my sympathetic feelings would lie mostly toward the person wronged, but in this case I just couldn’t love Nettie Mae as much as Cora. Watching these two women work out how their two families would peacefully interact after such a violation was fascinating to me. Speaking of characters, these are written very well. In fact, this book relies heavy on the characters and their thoughts and conversations to convey the story rather than big action scenes. Certainly there are things that happen that raise the suspense, but this story is carried by its characterization. I most loved Clyde Webber. I just loved reading his scenes. Such a strong boy with a lot of feeling about what his father had done and how his mother behaved in the aftermath. Clyde was raised under the mentality that men do not cry or show emotion-they get the job done when it is time, no matter what. So watching him navigate his loss as a young man vs. stepping into his father’s role in the family was really great. Young Beulah is a great character as well, but the almost-magical portions of her POVs made it just a teensy bit harder for me to enjoy her role. I never do as well when there is mysticism or magical realism in stories, even in small parts, and I do feel like this book is mostly Beulah’s story. What I loved most about this book is that it is a great look at life in the West during the time when it was so sparsely populated. When the people out there had to depend on themselves to survive the dry, hot weather and the cold desolation of the winter. I think this is best when read sort of slowly, in order to really take in everything that was going on out in this neck of the woods, and to really appreciate how difficult it was for these families to look beyond themselves and their feelings in order to survive and to take care of their children. A great story, and one that is largely inspired by the author’s real-life family too. I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Thank you, Lake Union Publishing! Find this review and more like it on my blog, Into the Hall of Books!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bambi Rathman

    I am in an utterly and hopeless book hangover after reading this book! Oh! My! Gosh! I am speechless! I Just had an "experience"! It was more than just reading a book. It was like going into the pages and becoming a part of the story. It was a complete bonding with the characters, the remote and endless landscape of the Wyoming territory and with the vegetation and animal life that dwelt within that habitat. It was an unbelievable and unforgettable encounter with an epic read. I don't even know I am in an utterly and hopeless book hangover after reading this book! Oh! My! Gosh! I am speechless! I Just had an "experience"! It was more than just reading a book. It was like going into the pages and becoming a part of the story. It was a complete bonding with the characters, the remote and endless landscape of the Wyoming territory and with the vegetation and animal life that dwelt within that habitat. It was an unbelievable and unforgettable encounter with an epic read. I don't even know how I can write a review close to worthy of this book. There are so many emotions I felt that were as real as if I were dealing with them myself. This is the first book I've read by Olivia Hawker and I'm in awe of her talent to pull so much out of me with her extraordinary prose. Each page in this magnificent novel drew me deeper into the lives of the characters. I'm just mind boggled at the intimate and minute details that created a living journey for me to travel in the pages of this book. There are passages that blew me away with the depth and meanings they held. Passages that made me stop and ponder. This is one that is particularly profound: This is a dream Beulah is having about a worm eating the leaf of a beanstalk...."The worm moved its terrible jaws and spoke. God is said to be great, the worm told me, So great you cannot see Him. But God is small, with hands like threads, and they reach for you everywhere you go. The hands touch everything-even you, even me. What falls never falls; what grows has grown a thousand times, and will live a thousand times more. Wherever hand touches hand, the Oneness comes to stay. Once God has made a thing whole, it cannot be broken again." The characters are unforgettable people. They are based after the author's ancestors and are truly unique and memorable. I so appreciated the Author's Notes and Acknowledgement added at the end of the book. It was so interesting how she developed and came to write this amazing novel. This is a very lengthy novel but so worth every word that's written in it. I truly didn't want it to end. I want to thank Lake Union and Olivia Hawker for the extreme privilege I had of reading this book! This is my honest and heartfelt review of a book that ranks as one of my top 5 this year.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Frosty61

    4.5 stars rounded up. I'm one of those people who've learned I need to be in a certain frame of mind in order for a book to resonate with me. It's hit or miss sometimes. After a summer of light reads, I decided to give this one a try and it didn't disappoint. Thank you, NetGalley for the ARC! This is a book to be savored. The writing is lyrical, the descriptions are incredible, the characters are realistic, the pace is a little slow (hence the deduction of a half star), but the plot pulled me in 4.5 stars rounded up. I'm one of those people who've learned I need to be in a certain frame of mind in order for a book to resonate with me. It's hit or miss sometimes. After a summer of light reads, I decided to give this one a try and it didn't disappoint. Thank you, NetGalley for the ARC! This is a book to be savored. The writing is lyrical, the descriptions are incredible, the characters are realistic, the pace is a little slow (hence the deduction of a half star), but the plot pulled me in from the first line onward. The Wyoming Territory of the 1860's comes through so well that I felt the cold, the wind, and the dirt that came with farm living on the prairie during the time. The story is all about connections and the long-lasting consequences of the decisions people make when they lose connections. There's the connection between family members; the connections between neighbors/community members; the connection of humans and the natural world; and the connection of humans with the world after life has ended. Cora and Nettie Mae are neighbors who try to adapt to life without their husbands after one of them betrays the other. Their survival depends on them finding a way to compromise and connect amidst the hatred and shame that follows that betrayal. As they pick their way though the challenges of moving on with their lives, trying not to connect with each other, events conspire to help and hinder their efforts. Their children, while part of the problem, are also the conduit to the eventual solution. I loved the author's notes at the end of the book, but won't spoil things by revealing her inspiration for writing the story. It made the book even more wonderful in my eyes. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Louetta Waters

    This book...wow. I have so many words, so much I am feeling for this book...it was so wonderful. The writhing... so beautiful and lyrical and wise. I loved this story of pain, love, struggle and hate, understanding, forgiveness, joy, nature and seasons and of life and death. Olivia Hawker has taken all this and more, and evolved it into the story of two women, their men gone, reluctantly bringing their families together to survive the beautiful wild Montana land. Hawker's writing is beautifully This book...wow. I have so many words, so much I am feeling for this book...it was so wonderful. The writhing... so beautiful and lyrical and wise. I loved this story of pain, love, struggle and hate, understanding, forgiveness, joy, nature and seasons and of life and death. Olivia Hawker has taken all this and more, and evolved it into the story of two women, their men gone, reluctantly bringing their families together to survive the beautiful wild Montana land. Hawker's writing is beautifully flowing and the reader is drawn within the pages as Hawker artfully describes their struggles and discoveries of each other and all that is around them. And her characters! How I loved these people. So flawed and true to life. The story is over, and I now feel empty and lost and I miss it......... This has been moved into my top ten of all time favorites! Book is due to come out Oct 8, 2019 Easy 5 star, but that, somehow, feels like a low score. My extreme thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and author for a ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jen Juenke

    WOW. Let us double up that WOW! I had started this book months ago and kept putting it on the back burner. I should have just kept with it before putting mediocre books before it. This book is an EPIC that stands on its own. It starts with a murder and from there the story unfolds. It is told by 4 narrative, Cora, Nettie Mae, Buleah, and Clyde. I would also say that the prairie and the land are also its own narrative. The story unfolds like a galloping pony that you will not want to stop. The many WOW. Let us double up that WOW! I had started this book months ago and kept putting it on the back burner. I should have just kept with it before putting mediocre books before it. This book is an EPIC that stands on its own. It starts with a murder and from there the story unfolds. It is told by 4 narrative, Cora, Nettie Mae, Buleah, and Clyde. I would also say that the prairie and the land are also its own narrative. The story unfolds like a galloping pony that you will not want to stop. The many twists and turns are captivating. The writing, while a bit long winded, is sweeping in design. It played out like a movie in my mind. Then to get to the end, and the author reveals that this was loosely based on her own familys history...mind blown! BRAVO to the author!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Betül

    **ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review** It took me time to really get into the story because of the slow pace and length of the book. But I eventually didn't mind it that much when I was further into the story. The multiple POVs (Beulah, Clyde, Cora, and Nettie Mae) were great because it showed different perspectives and made it easier to connect and relate to the characters. I had to get used to how Beulah's POV was written because it was sometimes difficult to follow, **ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review** It took me time to really get into the story because of the slow pace and length of the book. But I eventually didn't mind it that much when I was further into the story. The multiple POVs (Beulah, Clyde, Cora, and Nettie Mae) were great because it showed different perspectives and made it easier to connect and relate to the characters. I had to get used to how Beulah's POV was written because it was sometimes difficult to follow, however, after getting to know the character it made sense that her POV was written in a different style. This book is about family, redemption, forgiveness, sacrifice, and survival. Each character have their own problems they are dealing with, and it was beautiful to see how eventually they were able to put aside their differences and come together. I think the author did a great job in portraying how life was on the American frontier. I especially felt the loneliness and how much having a neighbor close by could keep you grounded. The reason I didn't rate it higher was because I thought the story felt monotone at times and I would've loved and epilogue at the end because it felt a bit unfinished.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    This novel takes place in Wyoming in 1870. There are few settlers and the Bemis and Weber families are neighbors - within walking distance - but their closest neighbors are 20 miles away. It's a long way to a small town and the families have to rely on themselves during the long days and the longer winters. The author's writing is so descriptive that I felt like I was with these families on the prairie with no one around for miles, working non- stop but being totally in touch with the land and This novel takes place in Wyoming in 1870. There are few settlers and the Bemis and Weber families are neighbors - within walking distance - but their closest neighbors are 20 miles away. It's a long way to a small town and the families have to rely on themselves during the long days and the longer winters. The author's writing is so descriptive that I felt like I was with these families on the prairie with no one around for miles, working non- stop but being totally in touch with the land and the environment around them. As the novel begins, Ernest Bemis finds his wife Cora, in a compromising situation with their neighbor. Ernest doesn't think twice but shoots and kills his neighbor. He goes to prison for 2 years and that means that these two families have lost their men and have created a strong dislike of each other. The main day to day work on the farms fall to Beulah Bemis, age 13, and Clyde Weber, age 16. They both realize that for the two families to survive the winter, they need to work together but Cora Bemis is too ashamed and Nettie Mae is too angry and bitter to even consider it. Though Beulah is a hard worker and knows what needs to be done for the family to survive, she's a bit dreamy and magical. Clyde on the other hand has been raised by a cruel father and has to learn to be a man without his father's guidance, which may be a good thing because he doesn't want to become a man like his father. Once Cora and Nettie Mae realize that neither family can survive the winter alone, Cora and her family - Beulah and 3 younger children move into Nettie's Mae's home. There is no friendship between the two women but as the winter goes on, they start to learn to trust each other. But along with trust, will Nettie Mae be able to forgive Cora and will Cora be able to forgive herself so that they can work together to help their families survive the long winter? This a beautifully written novel about love, friendship and survival of the harsh land that will stay in your mind long after you turn the last page. I found myself reading this book very slowly so that I could savor the lyrical writing and beautiful descriptions of the landscapes. Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Long But Beautiful. This is an incredibly detailed story of loss and love set in the Old West, and while the basic premise has been told many times in many settings, Hawker does an excellent job of highlighting a side to it not often shown. While the tale could have arguably been told with less specific details and at least 100-150 fewer pages, Hawker uses the extra detailing well - in service to the story rather than detracting from it. I know, it is approaching end of year and if you're Long But Beautiful. This is an incredibly detailed story of loss and love set in the Old West, and while the basic premise has been told many times in many settings, Hawker does an excellent job of highlighting a side to it not often shown. While the tale could have arguably been told with less specific details and at least 100-150 fewer pages, Hawker uses the extra detailing well - in service to the story rather than detracting from it. I know, it is approaching end of year and if you're concerned about the number of books you've read this year, 500 pages is daunting. Trust me, you're going to want to read this one anyway. ;) Very much recommended.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Beadyjan

    Wonderfully emotive storytelling, beautiful lyrical writing. Loved it Oh the lamb!! More review soon.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susan Peterson

    Stunningly beautiful This is a beautifully written book that transports readers to the Wyoming prairie in 1876. The prairie itself was a character, with its hardships as well as its beauty. A lyrical story about forgiveness and love, of death and rebirth, the Bremis and Webber families’ story was heartfelt and compelling.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Karen Kay

    I received this from Netgalley.com for a review. Wyoming, 1870. For as long as they have lived on the frontier, the Bemis and Webber families have relied on each other. Two women learning how to live together, keep their children safe and coping with a harsh environment. Densely packed read, good story. 3.25 I received this from Netgalley.com for a review. Wyoming, 1870. For as long as they have lived on the frontier, the Bemis and Webber families have relied on each other. Two women learning how to live together, keep their children safe and coping with a harsh environment. Densely packed read, good story. 3.25☆

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gail Nelson

    Wow, did I love this book! The prose was so beautifully descriptive, I could actually feel what it was like living in the prairies of Wyoming in 1876. Hated to see it end...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Richard Sutton

    A beautiful book. I'm a fan of deeply personal, historic fiction as well as life-affirming philosophy. Ms. Hawker provides both of these throughout this fine book. Her best work, to date, One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow certainly moved me. While reading it I found my eyes actually getting watery, sometimes just for the sheer beauty of the writing. Her alternating, Point of View based narrative sections may be some of the very best fiction I have ever read in any form. The characters' A beautiful book. I'm a fan of deeply personal, historic fiction as well as life-affirming philosophy. Ms. Hawker provides both of these throughout this fine book. Her best work, to date, One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow certainly moved me. While reading it I found my eyes actually getting watery, sometimes just for the sheer beauty of the writing. Her alternating, Point of View based narrative sections may be some of the very best fiction I have ever read in any form. The characters' voices are so intimately revealed and so true to the times that I was absolutely immersed from the first page. The sequences where disturbing events take place unwind as if you are there yourself, not expecting anything. She also carries a wonderful lesson forward through the stories and I felt I had been given a glimpse, from time to time, of something much greater than myself, but also no larger than myself. Life shines out on every single page. The descriptive sections alone, sharing the soul of the Prairie, are worth the time and cost. This is not a book you'll want to miss.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Roxy

    Hawker really brought the prairie to life, and the creatures inhabiting it. The struggles of these farmers in the late 1800's were complicated by the crime that brought the two families together. It is so beautifully written, with strong descriptions and dialogue.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ann Creel

    When I pick up a book written by Olivia Hawker, I know I'm going to be experiencing something special. The sense of harsh reality and intrigue begin on page one of this unusual novel, and they never let up. Through the eyes of two strong women thrust together due to circumstances, we experience what life must have been like in the almost barren landscape of frontier-era Wyoming. Hawker has a wonderful way with words, and sometimes I feel as if I'm reading poetry. She's also able to develop When I pick up a book written by Olivia Hawker, I know I'm going to be experiencing something special. The sense of harsh reality and intrigue begin on page one of this unusual novel, and they never let up. Through the eyes of two strong women thrust together due to circumstances, we experience what life must have been like in the almost barren landscape of frontier-era Wyoming. Hawker has a wonderful way with words, and sometimes I feel as if I'm reading poetry. She's also able to develop characters with entirely different voices who come alive on the page. There are no typical or stereotypical characters here, and the plot is not predictable. I never saw many things coming. Most fascinating is how she slowly but surely develops relationships that will pass the test of time, despite it all. Great for fans of historical fiction and anyone who simply loves a beautiful story. Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced reader's copy.

  30. 5 out of 5

    ROBIN RUIZ

    This book was written so beautifully. The author makes you feel you are part of the landscape. That you are planting and harvesting the land yourself. Told from four different points of view, all different people with different circumstances but yet tied together by one tragic event and all trying to survive the brutal wilderness winter . Clyde and Beulah are teenagers when the tragedy strikes and while both are innocent , it’s their friendship that holds these two families together not only at This book was written so beautifully. The author makes you feel you are part of the landscape. That you are planting and harvesting the land yourself. Told from four different points of view, all different people with different circumstances but yet tied together by one tragic event and all trying to survive the brutal wilderness winter . Clyde and Beulah are teenagers when the tragedy strikes and while both are innocent , it’s their friendship that holds these two families together not only at this tragic time but through the rough winter . A very good read by this author

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