Author Gene Stratton-Porter was delightfully skilled in the art of character development. She had a gift for walking a character right through the trials of life to be worked upon and end up reaching the full measure of their character – for good or for bad. Her work is splendid.
Daughter of the Land is a story about Kate Bates, a woman with a dream. She is a woman living in a man’s world with a mind for business and a strong work ethic, but life has a way of sending trials. Kate Bates is so real, so fallible, and so strong. One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “So Kate ‘cut that idea out’ at once, but the operation was painful, because when one turns mental surgeon and operates on the ugly spots in one’s disposition, there is no anesthetic, nor is the work done with skillful hands, so the wounds are numerous and leave ugly scars; but Kate was ruthless.” I love Kate for it. She sees her own weakness, and takes it head on. She sees where she has made mistakes. Mistakes that most people use as an excuse not to make anything of themselves, but Kate takes on her ‘ugly spots’ and makes them shine.
As often as not I wanted to throw this book across the room. Reading about hard knocks can be painful. But I hung in there and was rewarded with the final idea that “the more we get hurt in this world the decenter it makes us...it really seems as if failure and hardship make more of a human being of folks than success.” I am enjoying pondering that idea. All success and no failure or hardship doesn’t stretch us to become. Kate is an example of becoming.
My one caution and warning is that the edition I purchased from Amazon is not edited well. It can be irritating to read so many errors! Stratton-Porter has written other marvelous books. I can heartily recommend Laddie, Freckles and A Girl of the Limberlost as well as A Daughter of the Land. If you are in the mood for a lovely healing book, pick up something by Stratton-Porter. Some of the most prevalent values in our country, once so common and now nearly extinct are oozing from her books. It is a delight to spend some time reading about salt of the earth people who win at life in spite of adversity that seems nearly impossible to overcome.