Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: Dandelions on the Wind

Dandelions on the Wind by Mona Hodgson is the first novella in the three-volume "The Quilted Heart" collection. Set in the rural community of St. Charles, Missouri shortly after the Civil War, this story introduces a small group of friends who meet every Thursday to quilt. This collection is also the prequel to Mona's "Hearts Seeking Home" series coming out in August 2013.


Saint Charles, Missouri, 1865

When Maren Jensen took a job on Elsa Brantenberg’s St. Charles, Missouri farm, she never expected to call the place her home. As she grows to love Mrs. Brantenberg and her granddaughter, Gabi, Maren is transformed from a lonely mail-order bride-without-a-groom to a beloved member of the Brantenberg household.

But when Gabi’s father, Rutherford “Woolly” Wainwright, returns to the farm unexpectedly, everything changes for Maren. Despite the failing eyesight that caused her suitor to reject her, she can see that Woolly desperately needs to reconnect with the family he abandoned when his grief sent him running toward the army—and into the Civil War. She also senses there could be something more between the widower and herself, if either can move beyond their past hurts. Comforted and counseled by the wisdom of the women in her beloved quilting circle, Maren begins to discover the cost such decisions demand of her heart.

My thoughts

Maren and Woolly are sympathetic and fairly well-developed characters for a novella. Despite her own hardships, Maren helped Mrs. Brantenberg with the farm and Gabi in exchange for room and board, becoming close to them as a result. Maren had left her homeland of Denmark and set off for the unknown in America, a feeling she describes as that of "a dandelion on the wind."

Woolly had made mistakes in running away from his grief, but he was a good and generous man, doing his best to make things right. Woolly was "So sorry, for more than he could ever say. For his wife's death. For selfish grief. For war. And acts of war. For thinking he could escape the worst of the pain by leaving."

For me, the takeaway from this novella is the extending of grace. Having a hard time accepting Woolly's return at first, Mrs. Brantenberg asks Maren, "You think I'm being unfair to him? That I should've welcomed him home with open arms?" Maren replies, "Grace cannot be earned, only given."

This is the first of Mona's books that I've read and I liked her writing style very much. The only negative is that, while novellas are constrained by length, the ending felt very abrupt and the romance wasn't well developed. There was so much promise in these characters that I felt this could be a full novel.   

I still enjoyed Dandelions on the Wind overall and recommend it as light historical fiction. My recommendation is a cautious one, however, contingent on the fact that the remaining two novellas will continue to build on Maren and Woolly's story.
Mona Hodgson
To learn more about Mona Hodgson and her books, visit
This book was provided by WaterBrook Press through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

No comments:

Post a Comment