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ARC Review: The Divorce Colony

The Divorce Colony: How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier by April White April White’s The Divorce Colony is set during the Gilded Age, in the America of the late 1800s. It revolves around the lax divorce rules then to be found in South Dakota.  Today, getting divorced is almost easier than getting married. But in the Gilded Age, divorces were not so easy to obtain. Divorce was viewed as a moral concern for the state, and was denounced from the pulpit for threatening the sanctity of marriage. Even President Theodore Roosevelt spoke out against it.  Laws around divorce tended to be most lax on the frontiers of the United States. By the 1880s the territory of Dakota gained the dubious honor of posting the largest rise in divorces in the country. At the turn of the century one city - Sioux Falls, South Dakota - gained a reputation for having the laxest divorce laws of all, and required only a three month residency in order to take advantage of them

Review: Into No Man's Land: A Historical Memoir

Into No Man's Land: A Historical Memoir
by Irene Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Into No Man's Land is an affecting and compelling true account of one young girl and her family's experiences during the Holocaust. Escaping Warsaw Poland after the Nazis invade, Mama and Tata Miller, and their daughters Irene and Halina wind up robbed of their worldly possessions and left as refugees in "No Man's Land" on the Polish border with the Soviet Union. What follows are years of hunger and deprivation, a narrow escape for the mother from a train bound for a Nazi death camp, time in a Soviet labor camp for the whole family, separation of the girls from their parents into an orphanage, death of the father, and then, after the war, resettlement back into Poland where they find all their extended family has been murdered by the Nazis. Irene and her mother eventually emigrate to Israel where Irene marries, and with her husband moves to the US.

I had the opportunity to hear Irene Miller speak to a community group at Temple Jacob in Hancock in 2017. Well into her 80s, she stood and spoke for over an hour in a plain and straightforward manner, relating many of the tales that are in this book. Like her speaking manner, so too this book has a matter of fact tone that draws you in and makes you feel Irene's experiences, and become a part of the family as they are buffeted by the war. At just over 300 pages this book reads quickly - I read it in two sittings. Highly recommended.

Into No Man's Land links

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