A first collection set in North Dakota among Nordic-Americans and mostly at the time of the Great Depression. Several of the seven stories here are evocative, moving renditions of prairie life, while the others are either one-pony anecdotes stretched too thin or affectionate portraits painted with a local-color palette. The title piece, one of the best, is about Ildri, a seamstress who shows up at a small dress-shop on the Dakota Plains and works with the narrator's mother on a wedding dress, which draws the two of them together and gives Young a symbol to develop: the bride-to- be runs off, so Ildri sits in the store window in the dress, increasing business, then buys the dress before returning where she comes from. Ten years later, the narrator's mother happens upon Ildri and the rest of the story: Ildri married, but not in the dress—instead, she lived the bleak life of a homesteader. This prairie chronicle, and Ildri's sudden death, are moving. Another successful story is ``The Nights of Ragna Rundhaug,'' about a woman who becomes a midwife only because there's nobody else to do the job. She delivers babies after driving through blizzards and the like for years, and survives. And ``Twilight and June'' is a haunting tale about a man in love with another man's wife. Of the rest, ``Bank Night'' is an extended anecdote, set in 1936 in Little Butte, North Dakota, concerning a hired hand who wins $250 at the movies; his lucky night results in his murder by a waitress he ``two-timed.'' ``The Sins of the Fathers,'' likewise, is a thin joke about girls and boys and a car. Part of the University of Iowa's regional Bur Oak series—and most likely to interest devotees of prairie chronicle literature.
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