(Review) Her Side of History: Finding My Foremothers’ Footprints by Claudia J. Severin

Her Side of History
Publisher and Publication Date: Pella Road Publishing. February 25, 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 293.
Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy, but was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Reader’s of women’s stories.
Rating: Good.

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About the Author:
Claudia Johnson Severin lives with her farmer husband on a southeastern Nebraska farm that was homesteaded in 1869 by her husband’s great-grandparents, a setting for a portion of her anthology. At one time, the farm was home to dairy cows and chickens, as well as children. The cows, chickens, and children have all moved on, along with her day job. She spent a year researching many branches of her family tree but decided the facts she uncovered did not leave enough to the imagination. She applied imagination to the facts and came up with this book.
When she is not writing, she is constructing one-of-a-kind play structures for her grandchildren. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Journalism and a Cornhusker football fan.
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Summary:
Author Claudia J. Severin took things into her own hands when her genealogy research seemed limiting. Follow her foremothers, four mothers plucked from her family tree. She reimagines the lives of ancestral families in this anthology. Ina, the tragic suffragette, traded her college degree and teaching career for a loving husband and children in the 1910s, in the shadow of the Great War, but things did not work out as she planned. Mary, a German immigrant, finds love with an Iowa farmer, and crosses the state in a covered wagon with his entire family to become a homesteader on the Nebraska plains in 1869. She didn’t know that Indian encounters, prairie fires and locusts would threaten her and her rapidly growing family. Nellie fell for the bad boy, the Good Time Charley who didn’t let a little thing like Prohibition stand in his way. She tries to control his drinking and spending, while supporting her family in times of calamity in the 1920s and 1930s traveling from Nebraska to Kansas and back again. Katie finds herself the sole heir to her father’s farm in southeastern Nebraska decades after the Homestead Act took most of the land ownership out of play. She enjoys playing the flirtatious games learned from her older half-sisters. But are her suitors interested in her or her inheritance?

My Thoughts:
Over-all I liked the book.
•I feel having four main female character’s stories gave a fuller view of female personalities and life experiences, that one main character would not give.
•I enjoyed reading about Midwestern farm and pioneer life, even though some experiences of hardship was sad.
•Other aspects of the book that was interesting: the culture and society of the 19th century; male and female dating, engagement, sexual relations, and marriage; pregnancy and labor, childhood diseases and mortality.
•Severin is a great storyteller. The stories are endearing.
•I was shown the characters emotions, fears, angst, frustration; and also the back- breaking work life on the land.
Her Side of History showed me that women stayed married despite their choice in husbands they married. Marriage was binding. Women had little options if they were unmarried in order to earn a living and be independent. It was a precarious situation if the husband wouldn’t work or had a hole in their pockets for spending money. Most people during these time periods married young. Young people are often unwise in choosing a marriage partner because of naivete. It’s a sad state to be married to a person you cannot depend on except for trouble.
•I was reminded of the previous generations of women in my family. My mother’s parents, both of them lost their mothers at young ages. Both women were either pregnant or had just given birth. My grandparents grew up without mothers. Their fathers never remarried. However, despite growing up without mothers, both of them were wonderful parents to their two children.
•I enjoyed the black and white illustrations.
•I’m glad lists were made of family names in each women’s stories.

What I didn’t like:
•I don’t care for the front cover. The women in the story are strong characters. The female on the front cover gives me the impression she’s half hidden. She doesn’t want to reveal all of herself. I don’t feel the front cover reflects the characters.
•I don’t care for the title of the book. I feel it would be an okay subtitle but not the title of the book.
•One of the women got on my last nerve. When you put naïve and hardheaded together it makes a terrible recipe for disaster. My dislike of the character doesn’t take away from a positive review. It’s just me. Most women when they get older listen to that voice in their heads warning them not to do something. It was like watching a train wreck.
•There isn’t a clear break between the four stories. It’s one page ending the previous story and then the next page picks up with a new story. I feel a full blank page between the women’s stories gives a solid stop before beginning the next story.

The four stories are essentially short stories of four women. I wondered how a full-length story would be featuring one women?

Giveaway:
During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 2 eBooks of Her Side of History! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
Giveaway Rules:
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on April 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

This is the link for the giveaway:https://gleam.io/JAVys/her-side-of-history.

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