Five Star, Apr 2003, 26.95, 282 pp.
In 1886 Lindstrom, Minnesota, twenty-nine years old Lili Tornquist believes her life is over as her father is remarrying after fifteen years as a widower. The new spouse will take over the household that Lili has run for more than half of her life. When a letter comes from a distant cousin Gunnar Jorgeson asking Lili to marry him, she decides to accept and moves to his Montana sheep ranch.
Gunnar leaves claiming business almost upon Lili's arrival. However, she meets people coming through who stop for grub. This includes mine worker Tom Hawes and mine lawyer Charles Weatherby. When her marriage fails because he is “not manly” when it comes to women so will not make love to his new wife plus he has an alcohol problem, Lili moves to Butte. Charles and Tom, who has become a union organizer, court her while she works as a singer, the only work she can find. She likes both men, but she wonders if she loves either of them? If yes, she has to wonder if she will she consider marriage if either proposes following the shambles of her first marital endeavor.
SWEET GRASS is an engaging frontier romance that brings to life Big Sky country in a realistic manner to include pollution, strip mining, and unsafe working conditions. The story line vividly describes late nineteenth century Montana through the interactions of the ensemble cast. Though Gunnar never provides a strong rationale for why he asked Lili to marry him or how he knew so fast her change in status, readers will appreciate this colorful Americana tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner