Grace, Grief, and Gossip in a rural Minnesota town
Below the surface of ordinary daily life in this 1930s Minnesota town runs a hidden struggle between the unforgiving conservatism of church and town and the desire of certain of its citizens to find another way to live. A deeply confused Eva finds her identity in the discovery that her grandfather was a scholar. Townsfolk rally when the churches deny services to a suicide. Grace Krahn fights the town council for the right to build a public library. Then there are those looked down on: the simple woman who will never find a husband, the scrawny son dominated by his rigidly conservative mother, the little-noticed worker in the Old Folks Home. The most highly regarded in the town’s social structure are successful businessmen like Johann Jungas and, perhaps, ministers. In spite of inner tensions, the town holds together. One cohesive force is the compassion of ordinary folk who, aware of all that’s going on, give immediate support to those in trouble. The other is the general belief that above them all is God keeping an eye on the town—on those receiving small reward in this life, but also those who, hard-working and upright, rise to the top. Several stories are based on actual events and persons in old Windamer: Tante Lieze and her troublesome daughters, Taunte Joht who lived by the swamp and brought bags of vegetables to people, the young girl tricked into a disastrous marriage, the cold January day the Jungas hardware store burned down. Some stories were inspired by life in other Mennonite towns. Most names have been changed, including the name of the town itself.