Saturday, May 18, 2013

Germans in the Old West & Hershon's The German Bride

From Wednesday's BBC article "German dialect in Texas is one of a kind, and dying out:"
The first German settlers arrived in Texas over 150 years ago and successfully passed on their native language throughout the generations - until now.
German was the main language used in schools, churches and businesses around the hill country between Austin and San Antonio. But two world wars and the resulting drop in the standing of German meant that the fifth and sixth generation of immigrants did not pass it on to their children.
For a novel about German immigrants in the Old West, try The German Bride by Joanna Hershon:
Hershon's third a stylish account of a German Jewish young woman's often brutal odyssey to the post–Civil War American Southwest. After a family tragedy in Berlin, Eva Frank flees in shame and guilt to Santa Fe with her new husband, Abraham Shein. Abraham and his older brother, Meyer, are successful dry goods merchants, and once Eva and Abraham arrive in Santa Fe, Eva's narrative becomes a fish-out-of-water story as the promises Abraham made to her fail to materialize. Abraham, an abusive philanderer with a gambling addiction, wants a child, and Eva wants Abraham to build them a proper house. Eva—hoarding her dowry—begins scheming ways to abandon Santa Fe and establish a better life in San Francisco, but fleeing from unstable Abraham is a dangerous proposition.

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