The Meaning of Names (Paperback)
A literary History lesson set just down Highway 20 to the East. Within hearing distance of the stories a few of us got from our parents and relatives. A wonderful book.— From Contemporary Western Fiction
Set in 1918 in the farm country at the heart of America, The Meaning of Names is the story of an ordinary woman trying to raise a family during extraordinary times. Estranged from her parents because she married against their will, confronted with violence and prejudice against her people, and caught up in the midst of the worst plague the world has ever seen, Gerda Vogel, an American of German descent, must find the strength to keep her family safe from the effects of a war that threatens to consume the whole world.
About the Author
Karen Gettert Shoemaker is the author of Night Sounds and Other Stories. Awards for her writing include a Nebraska Press Association Award for Feature Writing, two Independent Artist Fellowship Awards from the Nebraska Arts Council, and a Nebraska Book Award for Short Fiction. Her work has been published in a variety of newspapers and journals, including The London Independent, Prairie Schooner, Kalliope, and The South Dakota Review, and anthologized in A Different Plain: Contemporary Nebraska Fiction Writers, Times of Sorrow/Times of Grace, An Untidy Season, and Nebraska Presence: An Anthology of Poetry. She is a faculty mentor with the University of Nebraska s MFA in Writing Program. She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she and her husband own and operate Shoemaker s Truck Stop and Travel Center."
“The Meaning of Names is a hauntingly tender story set in Nebraska during World War I, a time when nationalism led to prejudice against German-Americans, a time when the influenza pandemic of 1918 killed millions. Against this grim backdrop, Karen Gettert Shoemaker weaves an enduring story of faith, family, and love. This is a wonderful debut novel, and Gerda Vogel is a character I’ll remember always.”
“In The Meaning of Names, we find the Vogels struggling to get by on their Nebraska farm in the midst of the First World War, rising anti-German sentiment in town, and a fierce and virulent flu epidemic. Gerda and Fritz, their children, Dr. Gannoway and his wife Miranda, their friends the Baums, and Father Jungels—these characters and their little town of Stuart, Nebraska, are so real, so pulsing with passion and care, that I hated to have to leave them behind. Reminiscent of Willa Cather’s My Ántonia, Shoemaker’s novel is an essential read for anyone who cares about the Midwest, about its demanding landscape, its rich and tragic history, and its remarkable, breathtaking beauty.”
“Karen Gettert Shoemaker’s rich historical novel is reminiscent of the fiction of Willa Cather and every bit as memorable. Shoemaker captures the hearts and souls of her characters in intricate, poetic detail even as she tells a story of the lives rent by suspicion and wartime prejudice. Against the dramatic skies of the Great Plains, and the beauty of the landscape, unfolds a tale of faith and science, love and death.”