Fiction, Literary Fiction

Our Lady of the Prairie by Thisbe Nissen #BookReview

When I picked this book up, I felt that it would not be my cup of tea. The start of the story felt a bit bumpy, and I couldn’t wait to DNF the book.

But, this book was featured in Chicago Review of Books’s “Most Anticipated Reads of 2018”, and I wanted to plough through the book and figure out what made it “anticipated”.

And I’m happy to tell you, my dear readers, that I started my January reading spree with a well-written book. A book with memorable quotes, so-close-to-reality characters and a very realistic plot.


The plot of “Our Lady of the Prairie” goes like this (as seen on GoodReads): In the space of a few torrid months on the Iowa prairie, Phillipa Maakestad—long-married theater professor and mother of an unstable daughter—grapples with a life turned upside down. After falling headlong into a passionate affair during a semester spent teaching in Ohio, Phillipa returns home to Iowa for her daughter Ginny’s wedding. There, Phillipa must endure (among other things) a wedding-day tornado, a menace of a mother-in-law who may or may not have been a Nazi collaborator, and the tragicomic revenge fantasies of her heretofore docile husband.

Naturally, she does what any newly liberated woman would do: she takes a match to her life on the prairie and then steps back to survey the wreckage.

Set in the seething political climate of a contentious election, Thisbe Nissen’s new novel is sexy, smart, and razor-sharp—a freight train barreling through the heart of the land and the land of the heart. 

What I liked about this book is that the story seems to meander as per the thoughts of the protagonist Phillipa. This style of writing is something that people who are criticised for “thinking a lot” would relate to very well. The protagonist constantly chatters on and on about what could have been, what should have been, what must have been, what will be. And in a way, it does mirror the thoughts that every over-thoughtful person thinks. Our brains are on a constant overdrive, and this has many unexpected, and sometimes hilarious, repercussions.

I am very interested in books which have a theme of the World War II. And this book does have a glimpse of it. I wouldn’t want to reveal to you in which context the theme comes in, as that would be a major spoiler. But trust me when I say this: The conclusion of the World War II themed chapter will leave you with your jaw on the floor. The whole chapter represents why and how a character grows over the ages, and how people are forced to make difficult decisions during difficult times.

Moreover, this is my first Thisbe Nissen book (thank you NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an ARC!). I must say, inspite of my bumpy first chapter, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I guess I took that time to get used to the reading style, because I haven’t read a book like this in a long time. The whole descriptive language in the book transported me to Ohio and Iowa and Prairie and France and to every place described in the book, right from the Gas Stop Motel to the crappy apartment that Phillipa purchases in a fit of “worrying about the future.”

What I didn’t like about this book is… maybe the spanking scene in the start of the book could have been a little less NSFW? I mean, I felt that the introduction to Phillipa’s husband Michael seemed a bit too volatile as compared to the later descriptions of docile Michael. (If you don’t agree with me on this, I’m willing to understand a different perspective to this scene, dear reader.)

All in all, I give this book a 4/5 stars and recommend it to anyone who is looking for an engaging read. Trust me, once you start liking Phillipa and start rooting for her, you’ll want to reach the last word of the book, but would’t want the book to end.

Our Lady of the Prairie


Note: This book will be released on 23rd January 2018.



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