October 05, 2011

Cross Creek by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

I had mixed feelings about this book. Before I read it I was expecting an account of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings life and how she homesteaded. While this book has some of that, it actually wasn't the type of homesteading account I thought it would be.

There isn't really a set time line to this novel. She jumps around back and forth between years and seasons and people. While she does describe some life on the farm, the majority of her time is spent describing the people of Cross Creek, and not always in the friendliest of ways.

Since this book was published before the civil rights movement, I expected some of the language that this book contains and knew it could be offensive. That didn't bother me. What bothered me was that it actually was racist. I could have respected Rawlings if the only time she appeared blatantly racist was just in her names of Black people. However, with the exception of a few she paints a picture of them being lazy, unintelligent, primitive, and quality only for servants. As she was quite the progressive lady in other ways during the novel (being divorced, running a farm on her own) she disappointed me in this area and it really spoiled the book for me.

When she's not talking about the people of Cross Creek the book is beautiful. Luscious descriptions of food she make abound and I might have to take a look at her cookbook. She describes beautiful scenery and the passing of the seasons through her farm. She describes the harvest and the natural wildlife that frequently show up unexpected in the least likely of places (snake in the bathroom). To me, the food chapter was the saving grace of this novel. In fact, its the reason I gave it as high as three stars.

If you are going to read this novel please be prepared to be offended. But also be prepared to experience the joy of running a Floridian farm.

Cross Creek
Copyright 1942
368 pages

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