Sweep Out the Ashes

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 29 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

I received this from Netgalley.com for a review.

Teaching college history in remote northern Montana, Diana Karnov came to Versailles to uncover secrets about her father.

Kind of burbling, bumpy, rocky, flowing kind of story and writing. Some parts were easily read, others not so much.

2.25☆
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Diana took up an appointment at a University in Versailles to find out the truth about her father. Set in Northern Montana the landscape is icy and bleak at times and fellow colleagues in the university are antagonistic, misogynists mainly, racist and basically unpleasant.

Diana has to learn how to balance her teaching career, give of her best to her students, handle her superiors who seem determined to either get her into bed and failing that get her sacked and also find her father. Finding her father was very fast track. The man was in plain sight, he knew her the moment he saw her and things seemed good. Handling a relationship with someone who was of mixed race, and in a town where strong feelings about race existed was a harder task.

Like now in America, the 1970s seem not very different where strong feelings survive re mixing between two races. 

Informative read.
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A good book well written characters and storyline. Has alot of history in this book telling the way of life and the problems with racism in the early 1900's and 1970's Made for an interesting read. has some romance but more in the line of a history book. still good to read
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I found the historical facts interesting but other than that it was, meh? i can't search for a better word. I wasn't so much interested in Diana nor the other characters around. But the facts made somewhat up for it, i guess.
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Blew's novel is a strong look at racism that continues to alive in well in the Western states.  She gives you, the reader,  a look at multiple types of racism: color of the skin, culture, and gender.  Blew also brought in a romance that takes you into the history and discrimination of bi-racial couples.  This novel was well written and interesting.  I do have to admit I was expecting something more in depth with the Russian aunts, Tatiana and Maria.  Recommend to readers of historical fiction or woman's fiction.
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Sweep Out the Ashes was a perfect read if you love learning new facts about history that probably aren't in the average US history book. I really enjoyed learning about the western part of the US during the early 1900s to the 1970s. Clearman Blew gave an excellent account of the American Indians, what they went through in the early 20th century, and how they were seen in society in the 1970s, where many people think everyone was loved no matter their race, gender, or orientation, but that wasn't true. Diana's history and story about finding her father and herself was compelling, funny, and interesting. 

If you love historical fiction, and yes, this book is considered a historical fiction book even though it's set in the 1970s, you will enjoy this. The descriptions of the clothing, cars, and people all portray a vivid image of what life was like in the 1970s for people living in the midwest/west. 

Diana's journey was only a small portion of this riveting novel, and now I really want to pick up other books by Mary Clearman Blew because I enjoyed this one so much!

Giving a four star review because I did feel like parts of the book dragged on when they could have been more easily digested with shorter paragraphs. Overall, it was a fantastic read!
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4 stars

This story is an old one, but charming nonetheless. 

A twenty-eight year old woman named Diana who was raised by two very strict maiden aunts takes a job in Versailles, Montana. Firstly to get away from the suffocating influence of her aunts,but she can't hide from herself the fact that she also wants to find her father. Her aunts describe him as a “drunken vagrant.” 

Versailles is a small town of about 10,000 people located in the northern part of Montana. She will be teaching history at the local university. 

Diana is very hard to get to know. She barely knows her own mind and is reluctant to trust people. But she is remarkably stubborn and when she says she will do something, she will do it. At the university she meets several people, some friendly, some hostile. There are those who feel that even in 1975 women do not belong teaching at a university. 

The winters in Versailles are deadly and Diana must adjust to the “culture” shock as she comes from Seattle. She takes flying lessons and wants to learn how to ride a horse. And, of course, there is a special man in the story. 

This is a coming of age story of a twenty-eight year old who has hardly lived at all. It is a very good book that is very well written and plotted. It is written in a linear fashion; one event following another in clear prose. It is an easy-to-read novel and the pages just fly by. The reader is hardly aware of time passing. I felt I could relate to Diana a little for I, too, grew up in Seattle and transplanted to Nebraska (with it's winters). The book is pretty predictable, but that doesn't detract too much from the story line. Sometimes it's nice to know in advance how a book is going to turn out – half the fun is enjoying the writing and getting to the end. This is my first Mary Clearman Blew book and I immediately went to Amazon to look for others of her novels. I truly enjoyed this departure from my usual action filled crime books. 

I want to thank NetGalley and University of Nebraska Press/Bison Books for forwarding to me a copy of this book for me to read, enjoy and review.
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