Gabby Mackenzie knows little and cares less about prairie people or their history. She sees her assignment to interview a hundred-year-old settler as nothing more than a bump in her hazy career path.
But as she gets to know old Mr. Tollerud and the land that has been his home, she finds herself drawn into the interwoven stories of the settlers, the Metis, and the First Nations who came before them. And her own life changes.
Review: Residential school survivor and life-long educator Dr. Cecil King says of Prairie Grass “a dynamic piece of work … Yes, it is a good read.”
I read a lot of historical fiction most of which I seek out from a favorite cadre of authors. Sometimes, however, I get requests out of the blue from authors who have somehow stumbled upon my humble review blog. Joan Soggie is one of those, and her book Prairie Grass was a stunning surprise. It’s one of those books that not only entertained and educated me, it also touched my heart. I was intrigued by the subject matter – a look at the vast western prairies and how they have changed over the thousands of years they’ve been inhabited by a variety of flora, fauna, and men. It coincides to a good degree with my own writing about America’s past in terms of the treatment of the native tribes affected by an expanding nation. I particularly enjoyed the development of the protagonist, Gabby, as she is introduced to subject matter that reaches far beyond the mandate of her research project. The going back and forth between the stories of Eric and of Jean-Jacques captures the readers imagination; draws them into the ever changing landscape, the ever changing values. This was indeed time well spent – I will end with a quote from Gabby (one that mirrors my own thoughts) “I was angry. Angry at an educational system that taught us while maintaining our comfortable ignorance. Angry at my country that touted itself as being fair, open-minded and welcoming while denying most of us its true history. ” I highly recommend Prairie Grass. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Joan has lived in rural Saskatchewan most of her life. Politics and noisy machines and interruptions annoy her. And although her intentions are good, she gets sidetracked easily. She spends hours just watching swallows swoop or the clouds billow.
The prairie and all its creatures are her inspiration. Her family is her joy.
She and her husband Dennis enjoy travelling and treasure days with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Prairie Grass is her second full length book. The first, Looking for Aiktow, tells stories of life along the Saskatchewan River over the past hundreds of years. Non-fiction or fiction, history and the land are recurring themes in her writing.