By Its Cover is my completely independent book review column. Selections are made based entirely on the book's cover. I'm testing the old saying in my quest to find new authors.
Title: The Real Minerva
Author: Mary Sharrat
I chose this because one of my Etsy friend's name is Minerva and she's awesome. :)
So it's set in the 1920s for most of the story. But little is said or done that couldn't have made it set today, which is a little sad...I'll explain in a minute.
It takes place in Minerva Minnesota and tells the story of a mother and daughter, a mother and daughter, and mother and daughter: Barbara and Penny, Cora and Phoebe, and to a lesser but no less tragic degree, Hazel and Irene. Barbara and Penny live with Irene and her family as hired help. Cora is staying at her grandfather's farm on the edge of town. Hazel is locked away in a mental institution, suffering from a malady that doesn't allow her to fully wake up or fully sleep.
Their paths further intersect when Penny runs away from her mother, angry that she, Barbara, and Irene's father, their employer, are having an affair. She ends up 21 miles away, at the Maagdenbergh farm just after Cora has given birth to her baby girl.
Penny stays on as a hired hand, helping Cora care for the baby and the house. She vows in her heart to protect them as she learns, first secretly and then more openly, of Cora's past. On the other side of town, Barbara's story continues with her falling in love with Mr. Hamilton and Irene seeing that as the ultimate affront to her sick mother memory so she...well, I won't give away the ending.
The part that saddens me is the way the town looks down on Barbara and Cora is pretty much the same as it would be now, only people may be less vocal about it. Progress, where art thou?
I'm sure someone could give this a more political literary analysis. I chose to take it as it is, not looking for hidden meanings or inferences. It's beautiful and a little haunting. I enjoyed it.