Lilacs in the Dust Bowl by Diana Stevan

This is my third venture into stories written by Diana Stevan. Lilacs in the Dust Bowl is a follow-up story to Stevan’s award-wining novel, Sunflowers Under Fire. The joy of reading Stevan’s work comes not only from the intricacy of the plot with the small parts arranged in a delicate way to understand her main character’s difficulties, but the writing is concise and well crafted. No wasted words, or useless cliches, the story is wonderfully told.

Lukia blinked. That was a lot of money, but if Egnat couldn’t come, what would she do? None of her children could replace Egnat. Without him, they would not survive.

With the first novel we read about Lukia Mazurets, a Ukrainian farmwife and the difficulties she faces living in a country seemingly always at war. At the end of the novel, with hope for a better future, Lukia has made arrangements for her and her family to immigrate to Canada. An extraordinary tale of endurance and hope based on Stevan’s grandmother.

Lilacs in the Dust Bowl begins with Lukia’s journey to a new country. It is not what she was promised. The timing could not have been worse. The world is on the edge of the Great Depression. Although parts of the novel have been fictionalized, it’s based on a true story. The characters are real, the difficulties are true, the pain is real but hope and the love of family keep them together.

With terrible losses Lukia has suffered in the first novel, the strength of Lilacs in the Dust Bowl, is Lukia’s devotion to her children, her hope for a better future in a new country. Even with the ravages of nature, falling grain prices, family conflict, Lukia never gives up. Her remaining children all take part in the struggle for a better tomorrow. We learn of the different personalities, the way each individual reacts with their present situation. Lukia even has a chance at love again but will she take it?

Please. Call me Orest.”
“Orest, I’m called Lukia.”
“Lukia.” He said it softly, as if it was a name to treasure. Unaccustomed to such tenderness, she turned away. “I better get the food. Are you staying?”
“I will, if you promise me one dance.”
She beamed. He was the first man she’d given any attention to. But then again, he was the first one who’d pursued her like a gentleman.

Yes, there is heartbreak in the story but there is laughter, moments of happiness and the shining beacon of better days ahead. Like many enjoyable stories, we don’t want it to end. Thankfully, there is a third, and according to Stevan, the final episode of Lukia Mazurets and her journey. Historical and biographical fiction at its best.

Diana Stevan is also the author of the novels, A Cry from The Deep and The Rubber Fence and the novelette The Blue Nightgown. A former family therapist, she is the mother of two daughters and lives with her husband Robert in West Vancouver and on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Peregrin Publishing (May 9 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 365 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1896402291
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1896402291

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Growing up in South Branch, Allan Hudson was encouraged to read from an early age by his mother who was a schoolteacher. He lives in Dieppe, NB, with his wife Gloria. He has enjoyed a lifetime of adventure, and travel and uses the many experiences as ideas for his writing. He is an author of action/adventure novels, historical fiction and a short story collection. His short stories – The Ship Breakers & In the Abyss – received Honourable Mention in the New Brunswick Writer’s Federation competition. He has stories published on, The Golden Ratio and his blog - South Branch Scribbler. 

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