One of the reasons I love reading is that I can learn about people and places I would have never known. Sometimes good escapist fictional fluff is lovely, but most of the time I love a book I can also feel wrapped by. Like a blanket of knowledge comforting me into a better person. When I saw this one available on NetGalley, I knew it had the potential to be one of those books and I am so happy to report I was right.
The Sweetest Rain is set in the 1930s in Arkansas, when the environment had already been ravaging farmers even before the Great Depression hit. Herbert Hoover’s hands-off policy towards aid to his citizens was deeply and acutely felt, especially in the South and the Dust Bowl areas. This is a slice of American history left out of a lot of books and narratives. I remember reading about the Dust Bowl in high school, but I had never paused and really thought of the realities and daily indignities of sharecropping.
Bryony is the daughter of such a sharecropper whose land is drying up rapidly. Desperation leads her to offer her maid series to the landowner, who has a reputation for being a bit of an elitist douche. The longer she works, the more tangled her life becomes with his family’s. Particularly, his son Michael, who is a mentally and physically tortured veteran of the Great War (WWI). But amidst the realistic trauma of living in that time, the two find their happily ever after.
On the romance scale, this one is a gentle, sweet story. As is appropriate of the time, the two are constantly aware of their physical selves and propriety and optics. There is no space for illicit trysts when one is trying desperately to feed their families and take care of their tenants. This is a historical romance with emphasis on the historical and highly recommended for fans of such. The writing reminded me of the really good old Janette Oake books (without the Jesus) and so if you liked her I’d recommend picking this up.
Overall, this one is recommended for folks who love gentle romances with sweet endings, with encompassing settings and a touch of education on the side. Enjoy it with sweet iced tea, while rocking on a front porch with the crickets providing the soundtrack.
- Surviving the Dust Bowl: From PBS’s American Experience series, this shows the progression of the blight.
- The Wall Street Journal‘s list of books on the Great Depression
- Brief history of sharecropping in Georgia, which I would imagine has many similarities to Arkansas.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thanks!