Her Kind tells the story of Rose Emma Parmlee via her diaries, compiled over her ninety-years of life, addressing her family’s migration from England to final settlement on the banks of the Mississippi River in LeClaire, Iowa. It is a historical novel based on real historical events and documents. While reading Her Kind, I felt like I was perched on Rose Parmlee’s shoulder as she leafed through her diaries. I especially like the touch of the historical record reprints peppered throughout the book. This added credibility to the story and to the illusion I was viewing someone’s personal thoughts and musings.
This is an intelligent story written beautifully; it is not an easy beach-read but the reward obtained matches the need to pay attention. The story is not told chronologically so you get the feel of flipping back and forth through something I would think would’ve been written chronologically. But perhaps Rose was like a lot of we writers who scribble on paper scraps or whatever else is available. So, as the reader, we are witness to Rose compiling these snippets into a cohesive unit, sorting and reflecting.
Her Kind gives a true sense of what it must’ve been like to live in a Mississippi River town in Iowa through several generations. In all, the story is beautiful and elegantly written, almost poetic. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in history, Mississippi River lore, family, or relationships.
The fifth-anniversary edition of Her Kind was recently released by 918studio press (full disclosure, my own publishing company) with a new foreword by Nancy Purington, Iowa City Mississippi River visual artist.