HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Rim of the Prairie
Author: Bess Streeter Aldrich
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press, republished in 1986
Language level: 3 (some taking the Lord’s name in vain and one instance of cursing)
Reading level: Ages 16 and up
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Aldrich, Bess Streeter. The Rim of the Prairie (published in 1925 by D. Appleton and Company; renewed in 1953 by Meredith Publishing; and republished in 1966 as a Bison Book by the University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE). I originally thought that this book, which was loaned to me by a friend, was about pioneer days, but it is not. It is set in the early 1900’s, when cars were common but some people still used horse and wagon. The place is rural Maple City, NE, where Nancy Moore, a young orphan woman who was raised there but went away at eighteen because of some catastrophic problem and is now engaged to marry a Mr. Farnsworth, returns home before her wedding and is talked into teaching school.
The town is also where Warner Field, a budding writer whose father has committed some terrible deed before his death and Warner has gone into deep debt to the father of his college friend Rod Farnsworth (I will leave you to make the connection) to make it good, has gone to work for his friend Mr. Rineland, who is president of the local bank, and is being pursued by Mr. Rineland’s daughter Alice. The Literary Review says, “Very well written. Mrs. Aldrich realizes real, living figures.” To me, it had a little “soap opera”-ish feel, although there is really not much untoward or objectionable in the book, other than the fact that Nancy’s Uncle Jud occasionally uses interjections such as “Good Lord” and “God Almighty” and once, just before he dies, exclaims the word “hell.”
It does turn out that Nancy is the product of unwed parents, but both of them died just after she was born. Also, one couple who live in the boarding house where both Warner and Nancy stay bicker with each other constantly and finally get a divorce. However, the author was evidently quite familiar with the Bible, because the book is liberally sprinkled with quotations and allusions from the scriptures. There are also some moral lessons about commitment and doing one’s duty that are emphasized. This would not be a book that would be interesting to small children, but perhaps older teens might enjoy it. The last time I checked, it was still available.