Synopses & Reviews
Alice Bullock is a young newlywed whose husband, Charlie, has just joined the Union Army, leaving her on his Iowa farm with only his formidable mother for company. Alice writes lively letters to her sister filled with accounts of local quilting bees, the rigors of farm life, and the customs of small-town America. But no town is too small for intrigue and treachery, and when Alice finds herself accused of murder, she discovers her own hidden strengths. Rich in details of quilting, Civil War-era America, and the realities of a woman's life in the nineteenth century, Alice's Tulips
is Sandra Dallas at her best.
"Witty and engaging...The details of Civil War life are richly presented, and the characters who people Alice's letters are relayed with charm." --Houston Chronicle
"Alice is a feisty Northern counterpart to Scarlett O'Hara...and her irreverent humor and precise expression will keep readers entertained." --Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Award-winning author Sandra Dallas was dubbed “a quintessential American voice” by Jane Smiley, in Vogue Magazine. She is the author of The Brides House, Whiter Than Snow, Prayers for Sale and Tallgrass, among others. She is the recipient of the Women Writing the West Willa Award and the two-time winner of the Western Writers of America Spur Award. For 25 years, Dallas worked as a reporter covering the Rocky Mountain region for Business Week, and started writing fiction in 1990. She lives with her husband in Denver, Colorado.
Reading Group Guide
1. "Mother Bullock had walked all the way to town in heavy snow. The cold had been so bad that Mother Bullock, who knits everywhere, even when riding in a buggy; had not been able to knit on a sock as we went along:' How, amid all this hardship and constant work, do the women manage to bear up and even be cheerful?
2. Women's friendships are often the center of Sandra Dallas's novels. Here, though, the women aren't all reliable friends. Miss Kittie and Jennie Kate both love to make Alice's life difficult. Are their motives similar? Who causes Alice more trouble?
3. What do you make of Jennie Kale's jealousy? Why does she decide to give her child to Charlie's wife who she always criticizes-instead of her own family?
4. Alice claims that Miss Kitty "has had herself a good time, and no harm done-to her, at any rate. She disremembers all the trouble her foolishness caused me:" Is Miss Kitty deliberately trying to hurt Alice, or is she just causing trouble to amuse herself?
5. Mother Bullock and Alice lake in Joybell and Annie cheerfully, despite the strain on their resources. If the men had not been off at war, how would they have behaved differently toward the drifters? If Annie and Joybell hadn't been able to help on the farm, would Alice and Mother Bullock have continued to help them?
6. Since the letters are from Alice, we only see her side of the story. Do you think Alice correctly assesses Mother Bullock's feelings for her?
7. What is the significance of the tulips to Alice? To Mother Bullock?
8. Although Prank values everything his brother tries to destroy, how can he and Nealie continue to keep Samuel's secrets, and, in turn, enable him to continue committing crimes?