3 out of 4 stars
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Emily has grown up in primitive surroundings on a family farm where her grandfather rules with an iron fist and her Uncle Steven and Timothy work alongside him. His additional hired hand, Claude, is cruel and refers to her with the demeaning title 'mud'.
The house is her sole responsibility including ironing, baking, cleaning and attending to the laundry. She is expected to rise early, care for the animals, and prepare all of the food. She rarely is shown any affection but is quickly reprimanded for any slight infraction. Because of all of her chores, this leaves little time for outside activities and friendships. Her Aunt Francine, who lives nearby, comes to visit from time to time, but for the most part, she is surrounded by men, their habitual drinking and gruff ways.
This is the storyline of September Wind written by Kathleen Janz-Anderson that depicts the life of the main character Emily and how she navigates around strict rules to have some fun without succumbing to punishment or wrath by the head of the household. Throughout the book, she dreams of freedom, falling in love and experiencing a world that lies outside of the only home she has ever known. Secrets surround her birth, and she faces severe losses as the novel unfolds. The timeline of the plot runs from 1942 until approximately 1960 when she becomes a young adult of eighteen.
From the cover, it may not be apparent that this book contains some serious situations that include murder, prostitution, and rape. I mention this for sensitive readers along with the comment that the author does go out of her way to be gentle and not too graphic. Most of what she says is accomplished through vivid imagery to get her points across without it being overly done with horrific details. The same goes for her use of foul language which she keeps to a minimum. There are some rough characters involved in this book, so I was surprised that she kept the dialogue as clean as she did while still conveying an abrasive quality to her characters.
This author is a master at keeping her reader riveted to the pages by dropping bombshells that you don't see coming. A chapter ends, and another opens with a statement that sets one back in shock. However, I liked that about this and found myself thinking that is how life works. We often are not given a warning of something coming. It just shows up. I generally stop reading after I complete a chapter, but I made the fatal mistake of continuing to the next, and because she has a way of bringing out new twists rapidly, I found myself reading until I had to put the book down. Sometimes, this was right at a harrowing moment, and I couldn't wait to get back to it and read more.
Even though I enjoyed this book immensely, there are a few drawbacks. For one, right after the cover, there is a page that lists the title again. It is written as 'September Winds' instead of September Wind, so this needs to be corrected. On every page going forth, it is written at the top as singular and not plural. For conformity sake, that page requires editing.
Also, I did not think the cover art fit the time frame of the 1940s to the 1960s because it looked a bit too modern, so I would suggest that the author consider other illustrations to reflect that. This is book one, so if there are more to come, then save this one for a later time.
The novel is divided into three parts. Part one ran from chapter one to fourteen. Part two began at chapter fifteen and ended at sixteen. The third and final one started at seventeen and went to the last chapter. I found it odd that part two only covered two chapters for no apparent reason. If there was a point to that, I entirely missed it. Generally, books of this nature show time progression or a significant shift in character development by dividing the material into segments outside of the chapters. Part two seems too short, and I would recommend reorganization for improvement. It might also be helpful to periodically list how old Emily is by putting the year at the beginning of a few chapters as the story goes forward.
Along with the suggestions I have indicated, I would advise that this book is given a good look over for errors in punctuation, grammar, and spelling. It wasn't terrible to the point of not being able to enjoy it, but I think it will only serve to make the writing of a higher quality which I believe this author intended. An example of where a mishap in spelling occurred is in this sentence: "His kiss lingered like the velvety touch of a rose pedal..." The word pedal should be written as 'petal' for a full romantic effect. I say this in good spirits because I know it isn't easy to write a full-length novel, and I think this author would want her work to be as close to perfection as possible.
With the errors and fixes needed, I am awarding this book a 3 out of 4 stars with the hope that this author makes slight changes to have it be even better. Readers who love suspense and romance set in bygone days where homemade pies are put in the oven, and a sand timer counts the minutes, will love this one. For those who do not like reading material that contains mild language, abusive and adult situations including sexuality, should stay away from this one.
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