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Book Review: Wind Over Marshdale by Tracy Krauss

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In Wind Over Marshdale Tracy Krauss brings together everyday characters with all kinds of warts and flaws to tell a story of doubt, faith, past failures and new beginnings.

Rachel Bosworth has taken a teaching job in the backwater town of Marshdale, Saskatchewan to get away from her toxic Toronto family and her reputation as the “ice queen.” If there is any iciness in her, however, it is rapidly melting under the attentions of Conrad McKinley (Con) and Thomas Lone Wolf.

Todd Bryant, the maritally frustrated pastor of Marshdale Community Church, finds himself squeezed between the demands of prejudiced parishioner Marni Hyde, who heads the town’s Heritage Committee, and newcomer Thomas Lone Wolf, who has moved to Marshdale to build a native center to honor his Cree forefathers.

Devout rancher Con can’t believe the magnetic hold the new teacher has on him. Trouble is, she has hardly given God a second thought, let alone yielded her heart to Him.

Add to that mix a snoopy landlady, a couple of kids, and Mirna Hyde, the town witch, and you have a cast that sparkles with plot possibilities.

I loved the Canadian prairie setting. Descriptions of the farm and town activities autumn to winter brought back scenes, smells and seasonal highlights of my childhood.

“The air was fresh and clear, with the lingering hint of grain dust from the ongoing harvest …. A symmetrical pattern of swathed grain wound up and down the fields, while a still unharvested sea of grain swayed in gently waiving ripples as the wind brushed past …. The quiet was deafening. Instead of the steady hum of traffic, she could hear a single dog bark, answered by the distant yelp of another. A chorus of croaking frogs mingled with the chirp of crickets coming from a slough on the edge of town” (Kindle Location 982).

The classroom interchanges and staffroom banter also rang true.

Krauss’s sly humor glitters just below the surface in passages like the one where Rachel shops at the local store and meets the male cashier:

“’Thanks,’ he said, as he took the money. He grinned suddenly, his eyes straying several time below the neck. One of his front teeth was chipped off. ‘Probably be seeing you around.’

With a prim nod, Rachel went to grab the bag of groceries. He still had it firmly in his grasp.

‘The name’s Harley, by the way. Harley Dickson, not Harley Davidson.’ He winked and handed over the grocery bag.

Rachel bolted form the confines of the store. She just might be doing all her shopping in the city from now on” – Kindle Location 945.

Though the characters are flawed, almost all are likeable, and we cheer them on as they face and overcome prejudices and old hurts, habits and addictions, social pressures and temptations.

The edginess of the characters and their issues, doesn’t detract from the story’s hopeful message. Instead it contrasts with the grace of God which anchors and pervades the story in many unspoken and outspoken ways.  The result is a hope-filled and satisfying read.

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