Remembering You by Penelope Stokes

I finished the Faith on the Home Front trilogy last night, coming to the last page of Remembering You by Penelope Stokes.

Now that I’ve read the whole series, I’m convinced. This isn’t Stokes’s best work (Circle of Grace comes to mind). Some of her other books are far better, both in plot and in writing.

In both this book and the one before it, I found myself yelling at the characters to hurry up and get it over with. I guess this is what an omniscient narrator does for a story. It’s not like I haven’t done this with other books; it’s just that, well, it felt that the characters, at points, were being pretty dumb.

I’m also wondering if my steady exposure to literary fiction is ruining me for some other fiction. I’m not sure, but I gradually feel a bit more discerning.

Stokes wrote the story as a tribute to her parents, and as that, it’s good. A World War II story that contains elements of war (battles, casualties, prison camp), but also centers on life at home, and on coming back from the war and the ensuing renewal. It seems the renewal is almost not questionable, though; rather, renewal is a given, the expected outcome.

I did really enjoy her introduction of a German town in Minnesota (New Ulm) and the hint of a Norwegian town in Minnesota (Frost), as well. The small northern towns (the book is set primarily in Mississippi) were a nice contrast (although not flatteringly so) to the Southern burg.

Oh, speaking of north: One of her chapter titles in that context is Cornhusker Sweetheart. The chapter title refers to a girl who lives in and grew up in Iowa (North Fork, to be exact). Cornhusker is a term I know to refer only to Nebraska, even though much corn is grown (and thus husked, as well) in Iowa also (I’ve lived in both Iowa and Nebraska). You shouldn’t be able to get away with that kind of miscue. Aren’t there proofreaders? Copy editors? When I initially read that, I muttered to myself, How does a person in North Carolina, who grew up in Mississippi, get away with writing about the Midwest, a place she’s clearly not familiar with?

OK, enough of that rant. It was still a mostly enjoyable read. A happy book.

Here’s Stokes’s website.

I find it interesting that these books aren’t listed on the author’s website. What does that mean?


2 responses to “Remembering You by Penelope Stokes

  1. Hannah,
    Hello! (You probably didn’t know I lurked around your blog, eh? Well, now you know . . . )

    I’ve never read any of Stokes’s books, but I wanted to comment on your observation that maybe you’re spoilt for some fiction because of the literary stuff you’ve been reading. After finally finishing my master’s degree in English (and reading all that Shakespeare, Chaucer, Dickens, etc.), I found that “normal” fiction was SO HARD for me to read–especially the pop fiction that I had formally adored (Stephen King comes to mind). I’ve slowly been able to re-appreciate really good contemporary writing (and Mr. King still can slap out a good one now and again, though he can sure slap out some stinkeroonies). My new problem (which you may be able to relate to) is that since I’ve been editing professionally, I have a hard time getting started in “pleasure writing”–I have to stop myself from looking at every comma, semi-colon, and split infinitive. I used to be a speedy reader, but now I am much slower, due to the aforementioned grammar policing I unconsciously do. Do you have a problem with editing without meaning to? If so, how do you cope with that? I find myself saying out loud, “Stop it, Becky–you ARE NOT getting paid to fix this one!” 🙂

    I enjoy reading your blog. Maybe I’ll see you around at another one of Trish’s social functions–or perchance at church, ahem. (I’ve been a heathen this summer–my kids have had swim meets every weekend.)

  2. The main problem I’ve experienced stemming from my editing work is that I’m frequently editing for different purposes in the same day — entirely different styles! That’s frustrating, because then I have to stop and think, No, wait, it’s OK in this piece, it’s the other one that would need this instance marked. I’m also, for the first time, starting to create my own style guide, slowly but steadily, which just complicates matters even more.

    I haven’t really noticed that this work has necessarily made my pleasure reading slower. I think I’ve always edited everything I read, though. At least since … Oh, I don’t know when it started. Back in school, though. Pretty early on.

    I have your blog in my feed reader, too. Welcome!

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