Grit, Faith, and Survival:
a Review of the novel
Daughter of the Cimarron
by Samuel Hall

Daughter of the Cimarron
book review by Marshall Buchholz 

Daughter of the Cimarron ...

The title evokes images of a river that runs through the Southwest ...

Of westerns and cattle drives and tough people facing rough conditions and coming through strong.

All of these images are painted by author Samuel Hall within the framework of the Great Depression. He shows us things we may never have considered.

Did you know that not all “Okies” migrated during the Great Depression? Some stayed and endured their hardships. These were tough, determined survivors, as described by author Samuel Hall in his novel, Daughter of the Cimarron, based on the real life experiences of the author’s mother.

Claire is struggling with a difficult marriage which ends shortly into the story. She is employed in a crew of traveling door-to-door salespersons in the Midwest. A romance develops between Claire and her supervisor, Elmer.

After stops and starts, and challenges, not the least of which was the onset of the Depression, Claire and Elmer marry. Making a living during such challenging times isn’t easy, and they eventually leave sales for other ventures.

Elmer & Claire 1930

Adding to the challenges for Claire are her husband’s parents, who seem to have a habit of inviting themselves as live-in “guests” any time Claire and Elmer’s circumstances improve—or theirs fail.

Throughout her circumstances, Claire struggles with doubts and faith in God as the author draws us into a vivid landscape of the Midwest. Much of the story takes place in Dodge City, Kansas and the Okalahoma Panhandle.

Most striking was the description of the four main characters surviving on mashed and cooked grain “acquired” from their landlord’s barn. In spite of their desperate and exhausting circumstances, we see the characters—Claire especially—survive with dignity and grace.

This is not literary fiction, like a Steinbeck novel. And, although it is published by a Christian publisher, this novel is not overtly a Christian novel, but a work of realistic historical fiction written from a Christian world view. While The Grapes of Wrath is heavily instilled with symbolism and motifs, Daughter of the Cimarron brings us into the grit and perseverance of main character by giving us a real person’s real history.

Another interesting feature of the novel is, it is the author’s own personal back story. By showing us the world, the life and the circumstances he was born out of, Samuel Hall has shown us that perseverance is a story, sometimes exhausting, sometimes exhilarating and often entertaining.

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