Frank Greerson and Gregory Young have been discharged from the Army and are headed to their childhood homes. They both defied their parents in 1861 when they joined the Army. After battling southern rebels and preserving the Union of the United States of America, the two men set out to battle the Kansas Prairie and build a life together. Once they find their claim, they encounter common obstacles to life on the Kansas Prairie in 1866: Native Americans, tornadoes, wild animals, and weather.
When a prairie fire destroys their crops and takes their neighbor’s lives, Frank and Gregory are instructed to find their young son’s aunt. Faced with leaving a destroyed claim, the railroad coming through their land, and dwindling funds, Frank and Gregory must decide whether to leave the place they have worked hard to make their own or fulfill their friends’ dying wishes.
JMS Books LLC
Written Ink Designs
Historical – Post-US Civil War
156 e-book pages
Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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I was a pretty excited to receive this book, and well…I think my anticipation and expectations got the best of me.
A Place to Call Their Own is a US post-civil war journey of, just what the title says. The main characters, Frank and Gregory, set off to find their place in the world where they can live a quiet life together.
I was ALL OVER the time period and subject matter of these former Union soldiers heading west into the untamed prairie lands to stake a claim and begin life anew. I was hoping with all my hopes that it would be a grownup tale somewhat reminiscent of Little House on the Prairie. And I really got my hopes up with the epigraph — an actual, and very fitting quote, from Little House.
But. It kills me to say that it all sort of ended up being not so great for me with what I look for in books.
The story clips along with a straight-shot narrative of Frank and Gregory setting out on their own and working toward building their new life and their hardships along the way. And that’s about it. There weren’t really any other plot threads tangling things up or leading me along to find out what would happen next with this thing or that thing. Nearly every hardship was summarily dealt with before moving on to the next scene. The few threads that dangled for later resolution were welcome, but were not quite strong enough to maintain anticipation.
There were times I could barely tell the difference between Frank and Gregory — so I think that overall character development lacked the extra punch of differentiating them or making them uniquely likable. It could be that the story begins with them as an established couple with very little backstory helping to frame them in my mind. I needed something extra to make me know them, want them together, and root for them to succeed in their endeavors.
Then too, some of the introspections felt way too current — such as some of the deeper emotional aspects and psychology of strict parents and upbringing. I can hear my prairie-raised granddaddy regaling me with stories of his childhood, the hard work, the misbehaving, the times he and his three brothers had a switch taken to their backsides…and he’d said: They weren’t bad parents. We did wrong, we deserved it, we learned our lesson, then we got on with the chores. From that, along with lots of other readings from that time period, I just don’t feel like these young men would have talked out their feelings and the psychological cause and effects to such a degree.
And…I can’t really say with any certainty that this is romance. There are certainly sweet and heartwarming moments. It’s a story of finding home, for sure. It’s a story of braving the unknown, absolutely. It’s a story of survival in an unforgiving landscape, undoubtedly. But love? Fighting for it? Fighting to keep it? I don’t think I saw or felt a whole lot of that. A Happily Ever After? Well, it felt way more like a Happy For Now. And that’s cool.
My research indicates this was the author’s debut novel. And for that I’ve gotta say it was pretty damn good. I’d also say the writing was mostly technically strong but with some room for improvement as he continues to find his voice.
Advance Review Copy generously provided by the author.
About the Author:
With inspiration from historical tourism sites, the love of reading, and a desire to write a novel, Dean started crafting his debut novel, A Place to Call Their Own, in 2008. After four years of writing and polishing the manuscript, it was accepted and originally published 2013. His second novel, Disappear With Me, set in Edwardian England was published later that same year. Both novels were re-released in May 2015.
Dean lives in Kansas City, Missouri with his two cats. He’s involved in his church and enjoys watching movies, outdoor activities in the warmer weather, and spending time with friends and family. In addition to writing, Dean’s hobbies include reading and patio gardening.