I have a fairly limited reading interest. If it doesn’t have a good HEA ending, I’m hesitant to read. It’s the reason I tend to avoid “literature,” which often ends badly. So I was a little worried I wouldn’t like C.H. Armstrong’s The Edge of Nowhere, a historical fiction set during the Depression, smack dab in the middle of dust bowl of Oklahoma.
I won’t deny the difficulties the protagonist, Victoria Hastings Harrison Greene are heart- wrenching and extremely difficult to read at times, yet Victoria’s grit keeps you sticking with her, wanting to see how she pulls through the next challenge.
At the beginning of the story, Victoria suffers great losses that make an impression on the eight-year old about the pain suffered when one allows love in their life. She is fortunate that she is taken in by a good family and at 18 marries a good man, forcing her to slack off on her “no love” vow. But then, the hardship comes from all directions. The depression, death, destruction… you name it, Victoria is forced to endure it. With an iron will and a willingness to do anything (and I mean anything) to ensure the survival of her children (12 total), Victoria makes it through. Unfortunately, she loses a little bit of her humanity during the process. As a result, her grandchildren experience a miserly, mean, old woman. In response, Victoria pens her story, so her grandchildren can understand that survival of the family came with a price.
I can imagine this book being read in schools to showcase the difficulties experienced during the depression. But the insights go beyond the fall of the economy and the dust bowl to cover other issues of the times, such as the poor attitudes towards and limited resources for women, lack of health care for easily treatable diseases, poverty, and more importantly asking the reader the question…do you have the stamina to survive and what are you willing to do to insure your survival.
The book is based on real-life stories, which increases the depth of what you learn about that time and place in American history. For example, I knew of the dust bowl, but I hadn’t known that the dust itself lead to many deaths or that people would wake up in the morning with their homes filled with dust.
It’s a fascinating story about a significant period in American life. While I wouldn’t say it has the traditional HEA ending, Victoria does endure.