A Depression Era Tale

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
327 Pages
Reviewed on 01/18/2020
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Author Biography

My inspiration for writing this novel set on a farm during the Great Depression came from my grandmother. Once I asked her what it was like living through the "hard times." She answered, "We were very, very lucky. We only went hungry for one year." That gave me the idea of setting a novel on her farm, with three sisters running into all kinds of trouble. The story, however, is totally from my imagination.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

Threads: A Depression Era Tale by Charlotte Whitney is the story of murder, love, and survival as three sisters make a startlingly disturbing discovery on their farm and realize that things are far bleaker than they thought. The Great Depression hit everyone hard and Nellie’s family is no different. They have a humble farm that is getting by, but young Nellie believes that if they find buried treasure, all their troubles will be solved. With that in mind, 7-year-old Nellie finds a blue-black hand of a dead baby. Little did she know, this would be the start of a mystery begging to be solved and she and her sisters might be the only people to solve it. Can she, Irene and Flora find out how that baby got there on their farm and why the baby was killed?

Fast-paced and incredibly well-written, this is a story that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat and wanting more. I enjoyed how all three girls had their own chapters with very distinctive narratives; it made it easier for me to connect with them and enjoy the story more. Nellie’s narrative is so innocent yet intelligent, Irene’s is smart and very mature and Flora’s is exceptionally witty and intelligent. All three of them complement the others very well; they set the tone for the plot and kept the story going in their own unique way. The mystery of the story is well-preserved until the end. I couldn’t guess why the baby was buried and who was behind every mysterious and sinister thing that was happening to these kids. This is an entertaining story because the descriptions are incredible. I enjoyed it immensely.

K.C. Finn

Threads: A Depression Era Tale is a work of children's fiction set in the historical period of the Great Depression in the United States, and was penned by author Charlotte Whitney. The events of the novel take place in Michigan, in a rural farming community where nothing much ever happens and life is very physically difficult. For the three sisters of our tale, the youngest of whom is the rambunctious Nellie, it seems that the boredom will never end until Nellie discovers a tiny hand that belongs to a dead baby whilst she’s digging in the dirt. So begins a grim intrigue that affects all of the sisters in very different ways as they search for the truth.

One of the things I liked most about this book was the sense of visual description that author Charlotte Whitney employs, which gave the novel this cinematic feel as though it was playing out in my head in full technicolor. This makes the atmosphere of the farmlands come to life, but also illustrates the more shocking moments of the plot really vividly too. The character development for Nellie, Irene and Flora are tied into the imaginative and rich narrative style, which gives the novel its true historical flavor. I loved the dialogue style of writing, which forces you to hear Nellie’s pronunciation especially and gives a true sense of childhood. This also makes some of the novel’s later discoveries all the more chilling. Overall, Threads: A Depression Era Tale is a unique work set in a fascinating time, brought to life extremely well by a talented author.

Judith Rook

In Threads: A Depression Era Tale, Charlotte Whitney evokes farm life in rural Michigan in 1934. Three young sisters live in a simple and naïve society, influenced by the same honest, hard-working adults, but experiencing events through very different, very youthful perspectives. Centered on the discovery of a new-born baby’s dead body, their individual understanding and suppositions illuminate the local community, revealing some of the realities of the Great Depression and vividly portraying adult characters without developing them beyond what a child would perceive. The book is not a memoir, although Whitney’s personal experience adds complete period authenticity. It is lively and colorful fiction, dealing with human issues and attitudes, and despite the dark event which drives the story, a large part of the interest lies in how three young girls take their individual places within their immediate community.

Three different points of view certainly widen the scope of what can be told. The author provides chapter headings that help the reader to move easily among the different places and stages of the narrative, gradually building to a climax which, while comparatively undramatic, provides a very satisfactory culmination to the story. Despite the lack of strong conflict in Threads: A Depression Era Tale, Charlotte Whitney has added a constant hint of menace, creating a dark line of suspense which adds to the depth of this very well-written, realistic and thoroughly enjoyable account of simple life among simple people, with a few curiosities of the human condition included for special effect.

Michelle Robertson

Life on a Michigan farm in the 1930s was far from easy for three young sisters. Hardship seemed to always be right around the corner. That, however, didn’t stop them from having their fun as children should. When Nellie, the youngest of the three, wanders into the woods to explore for pirate treasure, she got more than she bargained for by digging up a hand of a dead baby! Whose baby was buried in the woods and how in the world would Nellie and her sisters figure out the mystery?

Threads: A Depression Era Tale by Charlotte Whitney is a captivating tale told in a transitional style between the viewpoints of three main characters. This style of writing is intriguing and creative with three subplots worked into one main plot, each being highly developed and unique to their character but also remaining neutral. The Depression area on a farm is often hard to explain and in detail to boot, but Charlotte Whitney does this with detail and emotion, from describing the societal life, home life, and personal living to enhancing a mental image for readers with amazing detail of what landscapes, structures, clothing, and people themselves would have looked like during the 1930s on a farm and in a farming town in Michigan.

The plot itself having mystery and romance mixed in offers readers a more personal look into the lives of people experiencing hard times, as well as the life lessons each had learned from what they had endured. This book, although fiction, has a lot of truth and reality to it. I would recommend Threads: A Depression Era Tale to any reader interested in historical fiction, the Great Depression, and farm life. This was my first experience reading Charlotte Whitney's work, and if any future stories are as amazing as this one, I am a fan for life.