Fly With The Mourning Dove
Publish America (2007)
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner‑Jackson for Reader Views (6/07)
Velda Brotherton’s “Fly With The Mourning Dove” is a true story, based on the early life of Edna Smith Hiller, who–according to the author –is now92 years old. The story starts with the move of Edna’s family to New Mexico in 1920, where they went to homestead 640 acres of land, given to Edna’s dad, a war veteran.
Her father’s struggles with tuberculosis, as well as the harsh conditions on the homestead, result in young Edna’s frequent moves to different places, causing her to keep making and losing friends at a rapid rate. Each new place brings some joy, but invariably she has to move again, leaving behind those new friends and fretting about the next place she’ll have to adapt to. But Edna is a brave little girl, who grows into a brave young woman.
Ms. Brotherton’s writing is engaging and pulls the reader in quickly. She manages to show how
much Edna loved (and still loves) the life on the ranch. Her descriptions of day‑to‑day life on such a ranch are eye‑opening, especially when it comes to relationships with neighbors and the hardships of being so isolated from the rest of the world. Some of the scenes are truly funny, with my favorite being the one where Edna’s mother and a neighbor are preparing the turkey for a Thanksgiving dinner. It made me truly glad that we have supermarkets nowadays.
I have truly enjoyed this excursion into the past. My only regret is that the story ends in 1940, with the exception of an epilogue that very briefly explains some of the later events in Edna’s life. I would have loved to hear the rest of her story though.
I would highly recommend “Fly With The Mourning Dove” to anybody curious about women’s role in taming of some of America’s wildest and cruelest parts. This is a book to be shared with young and old.