Last night I reluctantly put Prayers for Sale down with only 30 pages left to read. But it was late, and I felt like I didn't want to rush the ending. This morning I did a few morning things, then hunkered down with it to finish it off. I'm glad I didn't rush.
This is a book I would never have picked up if I hadn't read Smallworld's review. It just looks like "women's fiction" which I typically don't like. It is a woman's story, but also much more.
The story is set in during the Great Depression, in a Colorado mining town. But Hennie, the main character, loves to tell stories, so it really goes back to the time of the Civil War when she was a young woman as she tells her story and the stories of many others. (She also quilts; it's not a quilting book but quilts and quilting figure prominently in the story - making me want to do some sewing.)
Some of the stories are funny; some are heartbreakingly sad; some are gruesome. I often stop reading a book when the tragedies start piling up and the story becomes too bleak. But the author never lets this book get to that point. There are lots of surprises in the story, and some coincidences, too, but they never come off as contrived. The ending is quite satisfying. Endings of books are very important to me; I really hate when a book seems to stop abruptly with an outlandish ending, or when the loose ends are neatly and improbably all tied up. This ended so perfectly. I wil look for more books by this author.
As I started reading the book I kept thinking that I need to read Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose next. Now it's been at least 20 years since I read that, so I don't remember much about it; the only connection I can come up with is the setting of western mining towns. But I guess it's time to get that one back out and take a look.