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Lightning in a Drought Year [Paperback]

Michelle Black


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Book Description

Aug. 1 2000
Finalist for the Colorado Book Award, 2000
Winner of the Silver CIPA Award, 2000
"Ten Best List"--recomendations to high school librarians by the National Education Association's Reading Circle

Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Wolf Moon Press, L.L.C. (Aug. 1 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 192970500X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1929705009
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g

Product Description

About the Author

Michelle Black graduated from law school with honors and practiced in both the public and private sectors before turning her attention to writing. Her first novel, NEVER COME DOWN, won first place for fiction in the 1997 Colorado Independent Publisher Book Awards. She lives in Colorado with her husband and two sons. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Michelle Black is a treasure July 7 2001
By Tracy Rowan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
On the great prairie lands of the United States, in the late 1880s, Laurel McBryde's life with her widowed father is exactly what she wishes it to be. She reads, makes photographs and is treated as an equal by her father. But when he dies on her twenty-first birthday, leaving her in the hands of her mother's family, Laurel's life changes radically. She is expected to marry, and to that end the Hartmoors press her to give up her most unfeminine behavior, her radical ideas and her belief that she is the equal to any man. Only one man in Chisholm appreciates Laurel for what she is, and he is not only married and of a different class, but there is a shadow over his past that threatens even their friendship.
Boy, can Michelle Black write! Her "Lightning in a Drought Year" is a tremendously moving, compelling novel about life in gilded-age Kansas. The plot is simple; it's a coming-of-age story involving the best sort of romantic heroine, a woman who has learned to think for herself, and it requires her to butt heads with those who uphold the status quo. But while her presence changes them, as it will in all good novels of the type, they change her as well, and this is tremendously refreshing because it acknowledges that any person at any age, no matter how enlightened they may seem, can have room for change and growth in their lives. Watching Laurel come to care for a family which at first seems horrid and stifling is one of the joys of this book. The story is told with a less-is-more restraint that compels readers to do a lot of the work for themselves, to bring their own feelings and experiences to the act of reading, which I find the most satisfying sort of storytelling.
One of Black's major strengths is characterization. She doesn't show her hand too quickly, but is careful to remain in Laurel's point of view, allowing the reader to see and understand only what Laurel does. Moments of extreme discomfort are broken by touches of unexpected kindness and humor, which are in turn squashed by rigid attitudes and expectations. It's an effort to get to know the Hartmoors, but the effort pays off. By the end I might not have agreed with any of their attitudes, but I felt a true affection for them. They are sublimely human and prone to all the human weaknesses as well as strengths. They do things for selfish reasons, but when a situation calls for selflessness and honesty, they come through, sometimes grudgingly, sometimes with infectious good humor. By comparison, Carey Fairchild, Laurel's lover, is not quite as well drawn as the others, but that's not necessarily a drawback. He's a nice change from the overwhelmingly masculine, square-jawed, often obtuse but always in control romantic hero who has become an awful cliché in romantic fiction. Carey is fallible, weak and strong by turns, loving, selfish, thoughtful and thoughtless, and if we don't see as far into him as we do the Hartmoor family members it is perhaps because Black is so consistent in her point of view that we perceive him through Laurel-tinted glasses which see the faults, but make them look smaller. As for Laurel, she's refreshingly girl-next-door. I was with her the whole way; never once did Black lose me with inappropriately gushy descriptions of her beauty, her brilliance or her spunk.
Michelle Black is a treasure; she has a strong, sensible narrative voice, an eye for believable characterization and the ability to make the most out of a simple plot. On the strength of this book, I've ordered the e-book version of her previous title "Never Come Down."
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WE'VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY! May 29 2000
By "gsf918" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I LOVED THIS BOOK! What an amazing story set in Victorian Kansas encompassing quite a number of sub-plots with a very satisfying conclusion that has you cheering and wanting more! There are lots of lawyers out there who write...or think they do, but Michelle Black is a writer who just happens to practice law. To those lovers of language, this difference will become known to you with the very first page. This is a gifted, new writer and this book is truly worthy of Oprah's list! I hope that a third book makes an appearance soon!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars enchanting Aug. 9 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Ms. Black writes a compelling love story intertwined with an equally compelling social drama. Though slow to start, the pace picks up nicely about midway through the book. I was afraid the the plot was somewhat predictable at first but was pleasantly surprised to find fascinating plot twists that enhanced and underscored her lively and believable characters. I look forward to more books by Ms. Black.

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