HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Squaw Winter
Author: Violet Morgan
Publisher: The Greenfield Printing and Publishing Co., 1955
Language level: 3 (a few euphemisms and one instance of taking the Lord’s name in vain)
Reading level: For teenagers or adults
Rating: 3 stars (FAIR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Morgan, Violet. Squaw Winter (published in 1955 by The Greenfield Printing and Publishing Co., Greenfield, OH). Violet Morgan was a well-known school teacher in my home county. I do not specifically recall whether I ever actually met her or not, but I am sure that my grandparents, who were also school teachers in Highland County, did know her. For many years, I have had her best-known book, Folklore of Highland County, a history of my home county in Ohio, in my library. Recently, while visiting back in my hometown of Hillsboro, OH (the county seat), I went to the library to do some research and came across Miss Morgan’s Squaw Winter, subtitled “A Love Story Based on the Indian Folklore of Highland County.” After returning home, I did a used book search on the Internet and found two copies available, one for about $35 while the other was signed by the author and listed at $50.
I swallowed hard and ordered the second one. I thought that it would have been set during the days when Indians roamed free in southern Ohio, say late 1700’s or early 1800’s, but it is actually set in modern times. The heroine, Sary, is the descendent of Indians who lives with her aging and ill grandmother in the hills of southeastern Highland County. The young man, Kane, who wants to marry her, has returned home from the Korean War, so the date is the early 1950’s. Cars and other modern conveniences are included, although the hill folk still do not have many of them yet. Miss Morgan weaves much of the folklore of the Indians of Highland County into the plot by means of flashbacks, story telling, and other literary devices.
However, there are some rather vivid descriptions of Sary’s developing body and Kane’s reputation for fathering babies (I have never figured out why old maid school teacher authors feel that they have to use some racy language, but Pearl S. Buck did it in The Good Earth as well), along with other references to promiscuity, some mentions of tobacco and alcohol use, a few colloquial euphemisms, and one instance of taking the Lord’s name in vain. It is not a book that I would highly recommend, but it does hold a special interest for me because of the locale, and there is not a lot of detail about the objectionable things I listed but more passing allusions. The plot did bog down at times which made for slow reading, but it picked up more toward the end. The book is not in print, but if anyone is really interested, that one copy for $35 or so still might be available.