Hope Ladley makes her living in 1890s Texas driving from farm to ranch, looking for families who need temporary domestic help, moving on once the need is over. Widower Jakob Stauffer certainly could use some extra hands around the house. His sister Annie lives with him, both to care for his daughter Emmy-Lou and to escape from an abusive husband. Since Annie is very pregnant and harvest time is approaching, indefatigable Hope rolls up her sleeves and pitches in, making everyone laugh with her mangled proverbs. Jakob’s pain over the loss of his wife begins to give way to interest in Hope, but is she willing to stop wandering? And clouds begin to loom when Annie’s husband Konrad sets plans in motion to get his wife back.
While Jakob is multidimensional, Hope is so good (she has almost no faults) and Konrad so bad (he “slinks” and “skulks” around) that the story was a bit too black-and-white for me. Hope’s comically twisted sayings (“put your best food forward”) add a dose of humor, and the reader will get a vivid sense of the daily burden farm women faced on the 19th century prairies. Inspirational fiction audiences will enjoy it.