Barren Ground, Ellen Glasgow

I was thrilled to get this book and more than sated reading all 500-odd pages.  The story is a romance of sorts, without the happy ending we expect from that word: romance.

The protagonist is a dreamy girl of 20, who makes wrong turns in the road, but recovers sufficiently to have a full life, first in New York for a short while, and then back to her Southern roots and a prosperous dairy farm she single handedly carves out of old tobacco earth. 

What stands out about Glasgow's work is the writing itself.   A more descriptive story will be hard to find.  Each person, most incidents, the environment, the structures, the weather, are all richly stated, not intrusively, but purposefully clear and beautifully penned.

By the time you reach mid-point in the story, you could possibly draw the characters or paint a landscape of the town or region. 

More than 70 years ago this was a contemporary story; today it languishes for a buck at bargain tables.  It is a pity that the worth of each word is not retained and that fads are so plentiful that not all good writing is valued equally.

If you like stories of the South, with good words, some of which might send you to the dictionary, and a not story book ending, you might search out this book and read it yourself.

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