Book Review: Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker

Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker

Mildred Walker (Schemm) (May 2, 1905 – May 27, 1998) an American novelist, who published 12 novels, was nominated for the National Book Award. She graduated from Wells College and from the University of Michigan. She was a faculty member at Wells College from 1955 to 1968.

I have received many requests for this book over the last five years, so when a copy finally crossed my desk, I moved it to the top of my reading pile.

Winter Wheat is a classic “coming of age” novel published in 1944.  This classic story is now a women’s history lesson and an accurate history of the settling of the west between World War I and World War II.  

The story opens with Ellen’s hopes of attending university in Minnesota. Away from the family wheat ranch for the first time, Ellen finds love and believes her future settled.  When her city fiancé is dismayed by his visit to the dry-land wheat ranch and calls off their marriage, complicated by a poor harvest, Ellen is left adrift and unable to return to university. The following winter is a time of maturing and learning to cope with life. Her adventures will seem horrific to the young women of today, but are much like my own mother’s stories of her girlhood.

This is a well written book, interesting as both a coming of age novel for girls as well as a history. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in agricultural history, women’s history or Montana history.

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