Seventrees is the story of three generations of strong women, beginning with Maggie Halleck. Her parents dead, Maggie is passed from one relation to another and spends several years with Amish relations before returning to her uncle’s household in Germantown, Pennsylvania. While unwelcome as a dependent child, he’s now mighty happy to have a *cheap* servant to look after his sickly wife. Maggie eventually marries schoolteacher Gerald Freiler, but he spends too much time chasing rainbows and can’t hold a job so they decide to try their fortunes in Santa Fe (still Mexican territory). Circumstances along the trail force them to delay Gerald’s dreams of riches and winter in Kansas – but Maggie’s taken one look and decided this is home. Maggie uses her brain and common sense and over the years builds a thriving business in the growing town of Seventrees while Gerald resents the loss of his dreams.
The story continues with that of their daughter Schooner (a nickname reflecting her birth in a prairie schooner), as tensions between north and south continue to heat up over the slavery issue. Schooner loves the one man she can’t have, and ends up making two ill-advised marriages to weaker willed men – will providence finally make the one man she wants available to her? Or will she wake up and smell the coffee and realize who is the right man for her?
Victoria, the result of Schooner’s second marriage to an English Lord (it’s too complicated and spoilerish to explain), thinks herself too well-born for the simple, dull life of Kansas and is thrilled when her mother sends her to her father England to be made into a proper lady. Will Victoria realize that there’s more gold to be found with home and family in Kansas than in the tarnished glitter of the English nobility? Is there truly no place like home?
Sorry, I couldn’t resist 😉
While not an action packed page turner, this was still a highly entertaining read for me. I loved watching Maggie and her family literally carve a business and town out of not much more than a small settlement by a missionary school. The author does a great job of blending her fictional characters into history, and I was blown away at what a hot-bed Kansas was prior to and into the Civil war. Out of print and rather rare from the prices the used sellers are asking (!!), but I was able to snatch a copy from Paperbackswap and from the Worldcat listings it appears there are libraries in the US that have copies – so don’t forget to try for an ILL.