Enidina Current and Mary Morrow live on neighboring farms in the flat, hard country of the upper Midwest during the early 1900s. This hardscrabble life comes easily to some, like Eddie, who has never wanted more than the land she works and the animals she raises on it with her husband, Frank. But for the deeply religious Mary, farming is an awkward living and at odds with her more cosmopolitan inclinations. Still, Mary creates a clean and orderly home life for her stormy husband, Jack, and her sons, while she adapts to the isolation of a rural town through the inspiration of a local preacher. She is the first to befriend Eddie in a relationship that will prove as rugged as the ground they walk on. Despite having little in common, Eddie and Mary need one another for survival and companionship. But as the Great Depression threatens, the delicate balance of their reliance on one another tips, pitting neighbor against neighbor, exposing the dark secrets they hide from one another, and triggering a series of disquieting events that threaten to unravel not only their friendship but their families as well.
In this luminous and unforgettable debut, Michelle Hoover explores the polarization of the human soul in times of hardship and the instinctual drive for self-preservation by whatever means necessary. The Quickening stands as a novel of lyrical precision and historical consequence, reflecting the resilience and sacrifices required even now in our modern troubled times.
“Hoover’s powerful debut tells the story of the intertwined fortunes of two early 20th-century Midwestern farm women….In this finely wrought and starkly atmospheric narrative, Hoover’s characters carry deep secrets, and their emotions are as intense as the acts of nature that shape their world.”–Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“I grew up among Iowa farm women, and Michelle Hoover has perfectly captured their voices and stories with great wisdom, tenderness, and beauty.”–Ted Kooser, U. S. Poet Laureate 2004-2006
“From the opening pages of this beautiful novel, I found myself immersed in the lives of these two farm women between the wars and their struggles with their families, themselves, the land and each other. The Quickening is such a fully realized, sensually vivid, psychologically intelligent novel that it’s hard to believe it is a debut, but it is and a sparkling one.” –Margot Livesey
“Michelle Hoover’s writing is brilliant and gutsy. She sees deeply, with great wisdom and compassion, and she creates characters who are complex and authentic.” –Ursula Hegi