From Kirkus Reviews:
A ponderous family epic of taming the prairie in northwestern Iowa, with skeletons in the closet and heavy breathing in the hayloft, from veteran heartland yarnspinner Manfred (No Fun on Sunday, etc. etc.). Tunis Freyling almost kills a co-worker in a rage, and feels cursed by his dead father's murderous melancholy. Deciding to settle elsewhere in Siouxland, he meets the headstrong Clara Shortridge, who worries that her father's incestuous behavior drove him from England. They marry and settle down to farm and raise eight children, who prosper while their parents become increasingly estranged. Tension builds between Tunis and Clara because she's denied him conjugal rights since the birth of their last baby, but they remain together. Their brood matures to take off in different directions--the eldest son a farmer, the youngest a lawyer, a prim middle daughter a missionary to the Sioux--but the dark ancestral past finally catches up to the couple as Tunis disappears to kill himself on turning 70, and Clara drops dead years later on learning that two of her own have run off to live as man and wife. Incest and sexual relations are central to the saga as it unfolds, but in addition Manfred provides touches of wit and an abundance of vivid, memorable scenes from rural America in more bucolic times. Hamlin Garland run through a Freudian gauntlet--in an obsessive but richly detailed family history. A feast for fans, perhaps, but repetitive and relatively plotless for the rest. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
From Publishers Weekly:
Manfred's latest chronicle of the prairie territory called Siouxland (after No Fun on Sunday ) is an earthy, epic novel focusing on an Iowa farm family from 1884 to 1966. The initial chapters are slow going, not for lack of incident, but because the reader is bombarded with too much detail. The story does not develop narrative momentum until the marriage of Tunis Freyling and Clara Shortridge, each of whom keeps a secret from the other: in his case, a violent temper; in hers, a family history of incest. Their secrets turn out to be their legacy. Manfred's strength is his dialogue. His ear for natural and archaic speech is employed to good effect since the Freylings are a family of raconteurs, relentlessly digging up their pasts in a hermetic milieu. Outside events rarely intrude; two world wars and the Great Depression hardly affect them. The lengthy narrative could have benefited with some pruning. The dialogue is often verbose and the style clunky ("She smiled funny at him"). But readers who persevere eventually will find themselves caught up in the individual and collective struggles of the Freyling clan.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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