Donna Meredith’s new novel Buried Seeds is a timely novel of activism, about, among other things, the West Virginia teachers’ strike of 2018 that electrified the nation. Buried Seeds is actually two novels beneath one cover, alternating between Clarksburg, WV teacher Angie Fisher’s strike narrative and Angie’s great-great-grandmother Rosella Krause’s early twentieth century activism in the struggle for women’s right to vote.
Angie Fisher is an excellent Everyteacher, fiftyish, funny and self-deprecating. When Angie accepts leadership of the American Federation of Teachers in her district, she sets herself up for an agonizing dilemma: how can she lead a strike when her unemployed husband Dewey is applying for work with the local FBI, likely to frown on such law-breaking? After Angie and Dewey are forced to move in with her parents, daughter Trish and her new baby soon follow—and if the old farmhouse weren’t already over-crowded, sister MacKenzie winds up there, too, when she leaves her husband.
Alongside Angie’s anguished life, Meredith shoots us into the early 1900s, where we meet her great-great grandmother Rosella, who has endured similar suffering. Rosella, an artist, is now in San Francisco, along with her fourteen-year-old daughter. The girl’s diary describes her mother’s life as an activist tirelessly working for women to earn the right to vote in 1907. We also get Rosella’s first-person account of San Francisco’s great earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906, providing one of the novel’s most dramatic set pieces.
A seasoned writer of mysteries, Meredith doesn’t ignore the need for suspense to keep readers tantalized in this well-researched novel containing many shocks and surprises with great historical themes.
Buried Seeds by Donna Meredith. Wild Women Writers, March 2020.
Reviewer bio: Ed Davis’s Time of the Light, a poetry collection, was released by Main Street Rag Press in 2013. His latest novel, The Psalms of Israel Jones (West Virginia University Press 2014), won the Hackney Award for an unpublished novel in 2010.