'The Waiting Place,' by Sharron Arksey

"The Waiting Place"

By Sharron Arksey

Turnstone Press

“The Waiting Place” by Sharron Arksey is a finalist in the High Plains Book Awards Women Writers and First Book categories. I found “The Waiting Place” refreshingly honest and eminently readable — a gem of good writing and a truthful portrayal of people and place. Consider her opening:

My name is Susan, but my husband calls me Sus. It rhymes with “shoes” which I haven’t been able to get my swollen feet into for the past two weeks. Or “snooze” which sounds like a good idea but I don’t think is possible. Or “booze” which sounds even better but has been off the menu for the past nine months.

A Manitoba author, Arksey has written a weekly column for 25 years about Canadian rural life, and “The Waiting Place” is a work which incorporates all facets of that setting. The main character, Susan, waits for the arrival of her first child on the farm she and her husband have purchased. Susan and her husband live in the same community as their parents; farming is in their blood and at the heart of the novel. Arksey also intersperses the voices of Susan’s mother and mother-in-law, Sandra and Joan, and, though those voices are not as distinct as Susan’s, the two older women emphasize the strength and character of women throughout the history of the rural West. The characters and the novel itself give an interesting, humorous and poignant account of the cycle of life for women who triumph in an extraordinarily difficult but satisfying life.

LouAnne Foley is retired educator who taught English and speech at Billings Skyview High School.

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