A family fights to keep control of their farmland with mounting pressures to sell. Purchase on Amazon.
“Jerry Apps unravels a family secret that arcs across three generations and delivers a surprising answer for one descendant.”
—Philip Hasheider, contributing author to Seasons on the Farm
Fans of Jerry Apps will delight in his latest novel, Blue Shadows Farm, which follows the intriguing family story of three generations on a Wisconsin farm.
Silas Starkweather, a Civil War veteran, is drawn to Wisconsin and homesteads 160 acres in Ames County, where he is known as the mysterious farmer forever digging holes. After years of hardship and toil, however, Silas develops a commitment to farming his land and respect for his new community. When Silas’s son Abe inherits Blue Shadows Farm he chooses to keep the land out of reluctant necessity, distilling and distributing “purified corn water” throughout Prohibition and the Great Depression in order to stay solvent. Abe’s daughter, Emma, willingly takes over the farm after her mother’s death. Emma’s love for this place inspires her to open the farm to school- children and families who share her respect for it. As she considers selling the land, Emma is confronted with a difficult question—who, through thick and thin, will care for Blue Shadows Farm as her family has done for over a century? In the midst of a controversy that disrupts the entire community, Emma looks into her family’s past to help her make crucial decisions about the future of its land.
Finalist, General Fiction, Midwest book Wards, 2010
Many books have good stories, but too often end up with the reader feeling that the story was better than what the writer did with it. Likewise, many really good writers unfortunately just don’t have very good stories to tell. But Jerry Apps scores big time on both counts with Blue Shadows Farm. It’s an exceptionally well-crafted tale, spread over three generations of Starkweathers.
From Silas Starkweather, a wounded Civil War soldier who homesteads the farm in rural central Wisconsin, through Emma his grand-daughter who ushers in the 21st century, the book chronicles their trials and triumphs through their relationships with their neighbors and the land. But Blue Shadows Farm is not a straight linear account of their lives. Successive chapters go back and forth among all three generations, creating interconnected timelines. From Silas Starkweather, a wounded Civil War soldier who homesteads the farm in rural central Wisconsin, through Emma, his grand-daughter who ushers in the 21st century, the book chronicles their trials and triumphs through their relationships with their neighbors and the land.
Apps’ smooth narrative, vivid descriptions and natural dialogue effectively weave the stories together into a large, coherent tapestry, covering a century-and-a-half of change on their farm and in the surrounding community. Each compact chapter is filled with a wealth of details about the era in which that chapter’s specific events occur, providing you with a fine taste of the vintage realities of rural life during each period.
It all comes together seamlessly and very effectively, including the mystery of an underlying theme that is an intriguing and satisfying part of the story. As you read and enjoy the literary pleasures of Blue Shadows Farm, it will inevitably expand your perspectives on how things were and how they are. You can’t help but learn some significant things in this historical novel that’s as much or more history as it is novel.
With Blue Shadows Farm, Jerry Apps has penned another gem in his long line of superb books. This one gives irrefutable proof that his craftsmanship as a writer is outstanding and the tales he tells are truly good stories. Nowadays, that is a hard-to-find and much-to-be-treasured combination. Jim Pope, Amazon.com.