Margot Benary-Isbert Louise S. Bechtel - Essay

Louise S. Bechtel

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The Margret of "Rowan Farm"] is a teen-age girl in postwar Germany. She is working hard on a farm,… and involved in various hopes and dreams of rebuilding her part of her war-torn country. She also is experiencing the difficulties of first love and making decisions that will shape her adult life. Her story, however, is the basic thread of a family story that gives many aspects of reconstruction in Germany. It includes interesting adults who have felt the war in different ways. It pierces the problems of war guilt as a teen-ager would feel it. So the book is truly a junior "novel," giving us a rich, full slice of life and the emotions and development of an admirable girl, whose inner life will be recognized as true by girls in any country….

The young twin brothers bravely solving a black market mystery, the stuffy mayor, and the red tape of German bureaucracy, provide incidents showing traditional unlovable sides of the German character.

It is a leisurely book, which through its length builds up a deep impression of the hard work of the farm, the beauty of country life, the variety of family problems and the different thinking of varied young people, from serious Margret to the siren from Frankfurt…. [A sequel to "The Ark," there] are sufficient throwbacks so that it could be read without reading "The Ark" first. Reading both will be a rewarding experience for any girl over twelve; more than any other postwar books for this age, they strike to the heart of problems of our time. Their final effect is one of hope and of beauty, for this writer is deeply imbued with the cycles of nature. (p. 7)

Louise S. Bechtel, in New York Herald Tribune Book Review (© I.H.T. Corporation; reprinted by permission), August 22, 1954.