Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Review of "The Joys of a Simple Life," by Elmarie Novak

Review of

The Joys of a Simple Life, by Elmarie Novak

Four out of five stars

 The author grew up in the area of Spillville, Iowa and this book is a collection of short recollections she has of her life in the years 1924-1934. She is of Czech Catholic heritage, which is fitting for Spillville is the home of the oldest Czech Catholic Church in the United States. Her family lived on a farm and while they had a personal electric power system run by batteries and a recharging generator, the house was heated by woodburning stoves and water was derived from cisterns for storage and hand pumps for delivery.

 Like all such farm families, the people worked very hard, yet they always ate very well and enjoyed life. There was a tight bond of family and community among the people, one of the essays is about when an entire family was stricken with the flu and quarantined. The author’s family did their farm chores as well as those of the stricken family and bought their groceries, setting them on the porch in order to avoid physical contact.

 Like the title, the writing is also fairly simple, there are errors and some repetition. Yet, the points are well made, although they lacked a lot, the family and the community described in this book had many things that modern people no longer have. I would describe their lives as “uncomplicated” rather than simple.

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