Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday Salon - Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas

It's a story of hardship, suffering, tragedy and loss, love and forgiveness. And, despite the tragedy, Sandra Dallas' Prayers for Sale is a story told with joy.

As in earlier books, such as The Persian Pickle Club, Dallas takes readers back to the Depression, this time to 1936 in Middle Swan, Colorado. Middle Swan is a mining community high in the mountains. It's been home to Hennie Comfort for seventy of her eighty-six years, although her daughter, Mae, is now insisting she spend winters with her in Iowa. So, Hennie is not looking forward to her future when she meets Nit Spindle.

When Hennie first sees Nit, she's standing in the snow at Hennie's gate, eyeing the sign that says "Prayers for Sale". Nit begs the older woman for a prayer for a baby. Nit quickly left, but her southern accent and her request tugged on Hennie's heart. Nit, a seventeen year old from Kentucky, married just two years, reminded Hennie of her own stories, since she married young in Tennessee, and watched her young husband disappear as a Confederate soldier. Hennie told of her youth, and, then, as she learned Nit's background, she slowly revealed the stories of her life, as the two women quilted together. It wasn't an easy life, but Hennie was a strong woman who overcame tragedy, and she hopes her life stories will help Nit overcome the bad times in her own life.

Sandra Dallas' books are not appreciated as they should be. Perhaps it's because they are books about the lives of women. But, they are not as simple as they appear. Prayers for Sale looks to be a book about an old woman's story, but it's so much more. The book spans the time period from the Civil War in Tennessee through Prohibition and the Depression in Colorado. Hennie's memories include life in a mining community, a brutal life of miners' deaths, whorehouses, and women or infants that die in childbirth. Throughout the book, Hennie's eyes view her life and community with love, and she sees the beauty in the land she has grown to cherish. Maybe Dallas' books aren't appreciated because she knows how important women were to life and death of communities, and how important it was for those women to be there for each other. Quilting is a device she uses in so many of her books, to show the need women have to get together and share their lives.

Hennie Comfort may be the storyteller, but Sandra Dallas puts magic in the words and phrases. When Nit and Hennie first meet, Nit asks about the sign, Prayers for Sale, and Hennie says, "That sign's older than God's old dog." The music in Hennie's words catches the reader up, just as much as it does Nit. Prayers for Sale is a book that will stay with me, just as Dallas' The Persian Pickle Club and Tallgrass still linger in my memory.

Sandra Dallas' website is www.sandradallas.com

Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas. St. Martin's Press, ©2009. ISBN 9780312385187 (hardcover), 320p.

20 comments:

debnance said...

What a promising title! I've read Dallas in the past, but I've missed her latest novels. I must try this one.

Lesa said...

If you've missed her latest novels, you've missed two of her best - Tallgrass, and now this one, Prayers for Sale. They are both wonderful books.

Melanie said...

I love Sandra Dallas. Tallgrass was a supurb book. I'm looking forward to this newest one.

Beth Groundwater said...

Well, I can say that Sandra Dallas is well-known and appreciated here in her home state of Colorado!

Lesa said...

You're going to love it, Melanie. I can predict that for your reading!

Lesa said...

I'm so jealous, Beth. I see from her touring schedule that she is doing Colorado and Utah bookstores and events. I wish she'd do Changing Hands or Poisoned Pen here.

Yvonne said...

Sounds like a good one. Have a great Sunday!

Lesa said...

Thank you, Yvonne! You have a great Sunday as well.

Kristen said...

I'll have to add that one to my ever growing list of books I want to read. I have liked Dallas in the past but it's been a while since I've read one of her books and I didn't know she had a new one out. Usually I'm more on top of things like this!

Gavin said...

Thanks, Lesa. I am adding Tallgrass and Prayers for Sale to my list. Have a great week.

Lesa said...

See, that's exactly what I mean Kristen. If she was better known (outside of Colorado, Beth!), all of her fans would have known there is a new Sandra Dallas. It's actually due out on Tuesday.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Gavin. I hope you come back to my blog and let me know what you think after you get a chance to read them. (If your TBR pile is anything like mine, though, it might be a while - smile.)

SmallWorld at Home said...

I've enjoyed her books, especially Tallgrass. I'll add this to my TBR!

Pat Browning said...

Thanks for reminding me that I once read The Persian Pickle Club, loved it, and completely forgot about it somewhere, sometime, between California and Oklahoma.

I bookmarked Sandra Dallas's web site so I can catch up with her again.

Pat Browning

Lesa said...

Please do add this to your TBR pile, and let me know what you think when you get around to it.

Lesa said...

Pat,

What a nice note, and such a sign you're a writer that your blog comment even sounds lyrical. Yes, you should catch up with Dallas' books. As I mentioned, my favorites after The Persian Pickle Club were Tallgrass and this new one.

Anonymous said...

Just left Sandra Dallas signing for Prayers for Sale and , as always , someone in the audience asks her which is her favorite novel and she always answers Mattie Spencer until tonight when she said that she now thinks "Prayers" is her favorite. Since I have always loved "mattie" having read it in one sitting, I am really excited about starting "Prayers".

Lesa said...

I'm so jealous that you were at a Sandra Dallas book signing. Maybe someday I'll get to meet her, and tell her how much I loved The Persian Pickle Club, Tallgrass, and now Prayers for Sale.

dancilhoney said...

I believe the biggest compliment a hairstylist can receive is referrals...everywhere I go folks are asking me who is your stylist your hair is fabulous.Salons in Dallas Tx

Print Synergies said...

This promotional item is awesome,and I prefer to read quality content,so I am happy to get so many good thanks for the post.

Thanks,
Print Synergies.