THE IRON COUNTRY by Mary Patterson


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The Iron Country is an unremarkable, somewhat uneventful, long novel which spends a half year in a small town in northern Minnesota in World War II, and throughout it is substantiated by a strong sense of life as it is--or was. All of the landmarks, from the local store to the Church to the Ice Cream Bar, down to the more prosaic household paraphernalia, are probably very honestly remembered. These are plain folks, and their rather flat existence faces the further constraint of people who do not talk easily to each other, even when their family affiliations are unquestionably strong..... Physically, the novel is primarily concerned with the Johnson family; the death of Enoch, a gentle man (the most powerful scene in the book); the loneliness of the months to follow for Mrs. Johnson; the love affair of Maxine, turning eighteen, with John Moore, a fairly independent, intractable boy who removes himself from the possibility of the war by deliberately injuring himself. Then there's the slow deterioration, sudden death (murder) of Father Bruckner; the anomalous position of the town's ""that woman""; etc. etc. The surface incidents actually are a medium of (not too deeply) meditative exchange about the enduring concerns-- love, death, faith, continuity. As such it is a novel close to the threshold of recognition for a traditional readership who will find it reflects feelings and fundamentals with which they can identify.

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 1965
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin