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So, what's the novel about?
A car crash in 1927 finds three-month-old Eleanor Owens wailing on the floorboard of a Ford Model T. Amid the menacing torrents of rain, her mother lies dead along a Washington highway, as the vehicle that caused the accident speeds away, and leaves Eleanor orphaned.
Placed in the care of her stern and poverty-stricken grandmother, Eleanor endures the challenge of growing up in small rural towns, yearning for her mother and another life. By age seventeen, Eleanor devises a plan. She intends to join the US Army Nurse Corps. Get an education. And climb out of poverty. But her brilliant plan crumbles.
In her despair, she impulsively makes a series of calamitous decisions and becomes entrapped in terror, abuse, and homelessness.
Inspired by true events and set amid the backdrop of the Great Depression, World War II, and the western migration, Eleanor Owens learns lessons about the ties that make a family strong, how to endure, and about her own resolve.
Early Praise for Eleanor's Song
Eleanor's Song has received professional reviews from BookLife and Kirkus Reviews, a review by best-selling and award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick, and more.
BookLife Reviews, designated as an Editor's Pick!
Field brings forth an historical tale of family, trauma, love, and determination in the Pacific Northwest in the era of the Depression, the second World War, and beyond. With little to her name in a time of great hardship, young Eleanor Owens, an orphan, learns what it’s like to be poor and unwanted. We watch as she grows into a teenager, living with her grandmother but suffering tragedy after tragedy in her personal life. Although her mind is set on her future from a young age, especially the promise of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps whose posters she keeps seeing, life and circumstances often get in the way of those dreams. Eleanor’s negotiation of these challenges is the heart of this captivating novel.
The power of this story will capture readers’ hearts from the first pages. Field weaves lively historical detail throughout, capturing the textures of life, as Eleanor and her friend Janice get caught up in changing fashions and times: “when I get enough money, I want one of those dresses that shows girls’ knee,” Janice boldly declares, while Elanor’s excited for shoulder pads. Eleanor’s growth is compelling and crisply told, from her tender yet naive youth to the strength and unwavering determination with which she’ll eventually protect herself and the ones she loves. This warm, relatable story will enfold readers of women’s and historical fiction, as it showcases, with wisdom and grace, a child blossoming into an adult and all the heartaches and joys that come with it.
Field’s careful dedication to what the world felt like amid these tumultuous events, including war-time scarcity and tension, gives everyday moments great resonance, but as Eleanor overcomes disappointments and starts a family of her own the detail never comes at the expense of narrative or emotional urgency. The prose sings, and Field offers welcome insight into life’s most vulnerable moments. Historical fiction readers will find this compelling novel of growth and perseverance one to treasure.
Takeaway: Moving story of a young woman’s maturation during the second World War.
Comparable Titles: Jojo Moyes’s The Giver of Stars, Kristina McMorris’s Sold on a Monday.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
—The BookLife Reviews Team
The following is an excerpt of the review.
"… the evocative prose and several scenes of intense action make the narrative addictive … culminating in a thrillingly explosive life-and-death battle. A ... period piece with moments of grace and a sturdy hero."
— Kirkus Reviews
Jane Kirkpatrick Review
Susan K. Field in Eleanor’s Song has written the classic novel: a character we can cheer for, who has talents and flaws, who makes mistakes but we understand because she’s young and she’s lived with terrible wounds. It’s a compelling read, a true page turner that unveils a strong woman resilient through trauma. Bravo to Eleanor and to her creator! May we see more from this debut author.
— Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of Beneath the Bending Skies
"Such power ... captured so much in a realistic and loved character."
—Dr. MaryJane Nordgren, author of The Nandria Series,
Early: Logging Tales Too Human to be Fiction, Quiet Courage, Frail the Bridge, and plays and memoir
"Dialogue is brilliant and convincing ... had me on the edge of my chair ..."
—Paula Sheller Adams, author of This Little Space and A Bear in My Sky