Bookreporter.com Bets On...
On the last day of my vacation in September, I sat by the pool and read an advance copy of RAINWATER by Sandra Brown, her first historical novel. Set during the Great Depression in Gilead, Texas, it’s a beautifully and tightly written story of love and hope in a world torn with economic and racial strife.
Sandra firmly plants the reader in this world, where farms are barren wastelands in the Dust Bowl and the only help for farmers is FDR’s Drought Relief Program --- which comes at quite a cost.
Readers are at the table in Ella Barton’s boardinghouse as she cares for her disabled son and copes with the short hand in life that she has been dealt. She sees her world for what it is; there is no longing for something else. But when Mr. David Rainwater comes into the house as a boarder, Ella’s life goes from gray and brown to sparkles of color. As she begins to feel love and caring, the reader sees what has been suppressed inside Ella, and it’s a metaphor for what’s happening in the country at that time. Sandra writes emotion well here. It’s not cloying or forced; it just rolls with an ease. Courage, inner-core moral values and the rally to do what is right infuse the love story that runs through the prose. Our reviewer likened it to THE GRAPES OF WRATH, which is an apt comparison.
Since I closed RAINWATER, I have thought about it again and again as it was a really satisfying read. It’s short, it’s tight with no spare words, and it feels like the kind of story you would have heard shared over the table from someone who knew those days --- a real telling of an oral history without hype or rhetoric. Thus, it’s a “Bets On” for me, even though Sandra already is a household name. I just don’t want you to miss it.