"My grandmother, Mae Kirwin, scared me." With that disturbing, distant memory, mystery novelist Mary Logue begins her exploration of the life of her mother's mother, who died more than thirty years ago.
Mae McNally Kirwin was born in 1894 in Chokio, a small prairie community in western Minnesota. In 1926, the sudden death of her husband left Mae to support herself and her five children. These facts were well known, but for Logue, they were not enough. Determined to get to know her grandmother better, Logue sets out to assemble the bits and pieces of her grandmother's life. Along the way, Logue takes the reader—and herself—on a journey of discovery. Digging through forgotten bank records, old newspapers, handwritten census forms, family documents, and faded recipes, she pieces together the past. In the process, she tells a much larger story—that of a community, a way of life, a family, and a single woman's struggle to survive in a world that is both harsh and richly rewarding.