Sunday, September 27, 2015

Mysteries of Love and Grief ~ ~ ~ Book Blog Tour, Review & Promo*

Reflections on a Plainswoman's Life

Sandra Scofield

Frieda Harms was born into a farming family in Indian Territory in 1906. Widowed at thirty and left with three children in the midst of the Great Depression, she worked as a farmer, a railroad cook, a mill worker, and a nurse in four states. She died in 1983. 

Sandra Scofield spent most of her childhood with her grandmother Frieda and remained close to her in adulthood. When Frieda died, Sandra received her Bible and boxes of her photographs, letters, and notes. For thirty years, Sandra dipped into that cache.

Sandra always sensed an undercurrent of hard feelings within her grandmother, but it was not until she sifted through Frieda’s belongings that she began to understand how much her life had demanded, and how much she had given. At the same time, questions in Sandra’s own history began to be answered, especially about the tug-of-war between her mother and grandmother. At last, in Mysteries of Love and Grief, Scofield wrestles with the meaning of her grandmother’s saga of labor and loss, trying to balance her need to understand with respect for Frieda’s mystery.


Throughout her depiction of her own family, Scofield kept me surprised—a moment of generosity when I didn't expect it or of anger when I didn't expect that. Mysteries remain as they must, but I trusted the insights as well as the mysteries. I thought it was a very beautiful book, smart and sharp.

—Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and The Jane Austen Book Club

Largely ungoverned by chronology, Scofield’s journey of discovery unfolds organically, true to the way memory works. Seeking to know her grandmother, she honors the lives and artistic bent of many women marginalized by gender and poverty in the early to mid-twentieth century. This is a unique and necessary work.

—Lorraine M. López, author of Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories and The Darling
HALL WAYS REVIEW:  As the title indicates, Mysteries of Love and Grief: Reflections on a Plainswoman's Life truly is author Sandra Scofield's reflections about the life of her grandmother, Frieda Harms, born into a farming family living in Indian Territory, 1906.  Scofield clearly did her research to create snapshots of not just Frieda's life, but the whole world and mindset of the women and men of that same era. As Scofield writes in an attempt to better understand her grandmother, the author's frustration and pain are tangible because she realizes the unnecessary hardships the people in her family endured and how much was left unsaid. Scofield finds that in her family, grief motivated many things, and says "Grief sometimes becomes anger, but how does it turn into a person's engine?" She desperately seeks to answer her question hoping that an answer will help her forgive and mend and comprehend.

Scofield's writing style is unique --  sometimes blunt and to the point, other times nearly stream-of-consciousness -- as she tries to make sense of the memories and the mementos of the grandmother she loved but never really knew.  Her musings are a good reminder to readers to ask questions before the only people who can answer them are gone forever, even when the attitude (like Frieda's) is that "there isn't any way to fix the past, and no good reason to suffer it." Scofield peppers her writing with figurative language, providing rich descriptions that stick with readers.

The book presents itself as a series of brief essays, and they are often repetitive and confusing because there are a lot of names to remember and no set chronology (though thankfully, a partial family tree is provided). Often, as the author reflects, she sometimes strays off into the territory of her other publications, which doesn't always feel necessarily appropriate.  The copy I was provided was an uncorrected proof, so I hope that these and other issues I found (peculiar semi-colon usage, lack of punctuation, pronoun confusion), which interrupted the flow of the writing, will be cleaned-up for the final version. 

Thank you to the publisher and Lone Star Lit Life for providing me an eBook copy in exchange for my honest opinion -- the only kind I give.

A native Texan, Sandra Scofield divides her time between Missoula, Montana and Portland, Oregon.

She has written seven novels, a memoir, and a craft book for writers. An excerpt from Mysteries of Love and Grief won first place in Narrative magazine’s 2014 Spring Story Contest. She is an avid landscape painter.


Sept 15 - Books and Broomsticks promo

Sept 16 - The Crazy Booksellers promo

Sept 18 - The Page Unbound promo

Sept 19 - Book Crazy Gals promo

Sept 20 - Bookishjessp promo

Sept 21 - TexasBookLover Author Q&A 

Sept 23 - My Book Fix Review

Sept 24 - All For the Love of the Word Author Q/A 

Sept 25 - Texas Book-aholic Review

Sept 26 - Secret Asian Girl Review

Sept 27 - Hall Ways Review

Sept 28 - Missus Gonzo Review

blog tour services provided by


*NOTE FROM KRISTINE at HALL WAYS: With the exception of the Hall Ways Review, the content of this promo post was provided by Lone Star Literary Life Blog Tours.  If you're a Texas blogger interested in joining the ranks of Texas Book Blog Tours, contact Tabatha Pope. Hall Ways Review will post separately

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