Synopses & Reviews
Set in the frontier of Michigan in the 1930s, A New Home is the first realistic portrayal of western village life in the United States. Based on Caroline Kirkland's own experiences--and written from a woman's perspective--it narrates with a keen eye and wit the absorbing story of the establishment of the village of Montacute, Michigan. A New Home is a vivid contribution to a new kind of narrative developed during the antebellum period, ethnographic fiction. Kirkland highlights the importance and the drama of local practices and everyday life in Montacute. She traces the way two groups of settlers slowly adjust to each other--the old hands and the newcomers from the East. Dramatizing differences of class and culture, she also shows how the groups finally form a genuine community and a new, diverse culture. Kirkland also gives enthographic fiction an original twist: she satirizes the provincialism and the rigidity of both groups of settlers. After writing A New Home, Kirkland became a professional literary woman, working as an editor as well as a writer. In her introduction, Sandra Zagarell explores the implications of Kirkland's writing and professional career for our understanding of women, writing, and the world of literature in antebellum America.