The following tabs present the writings of Loula Grace Erdman, providing summaries and reviews.

Please note: Many of the following review excerpts were taken from clippings in Erdman's scrapbooks. She subscribed to a commercial clipping service, and the page numbers were not included in the clippings she received and preserved. Also, she did not include page numbers when she cut out articles and pasted them in her scrapbooks. Therefore, complete citation information was not available for all review excerpts.

Summary

Separate Star, a career novel for aspiring teachers, was Erdman's first book-length work. It received favorable reviews and garnered considerable attention in the education world. Gail Warren is an idealistic new teacher fresh out of college. She accepts a position in a small school with a number of problems. Gail works to resolve each problem and makes a real difference in the lives of the people of the community.

Review Excerpts

A lively, well-written career story with good characterizations and a touch of romance. Girls of junior and senior high school age will enjoy it.
The Chicago Tribune; Chicago, Illinois; April 23, 1944.
There is nothing 'juvenile' about it. The characters are vitally alive and human and the way in which Gail Warren meets her teaching problems in a small town school carries help for any teacher who has ever faced her task with high ambition and ended in discouragement."
The Chicago Sun; Chicago, Illinois; June 4, 1944.
Miss Erdman, after getting off to a slow start, proves that she can write an interesting novel. In fact, such a story as hers might be used to advantage in a classroom in teaching the technique of the novel. Many students would probably be able to understand the initial incident, rising action, climax, and denouement more readily in Separate Star than in Silas Marner or some of the other old standbys. There are also some good characterizations, especially of some of the children, humor, pathos, local color, suspense, drama, and the necessary romance.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Fort Worth, Texas; April 9, 1944.

Summary

Fair is the Morning is a companion book to Separate Star. It follows Connie Thurman, Gail Warren's roommate, during her first year of teaching. Connie accepts employment in a rural school and faces a set of problems different from those Gail faced. The Child Study Association, a national organization, selected this book as one of the outstanding works of 1945. Eleanor Roosevelt praised Fair is the Morning in her column in the New York World Telegram. A scrapbook in the WTAMU Erdman Collection contains a copy of Roosevelt's column.

Review Excerpts

Here, with a good story, is an interesting premise. It is that rural school teachers should be specially trained for their work, not merely learn their profession by progressing from country schools to schools in cities... . The story makes very good reading... . All the characterizations are good.
Saturday Review of Literature 28(45):64 (November 10, 1945).
Loula Grace Erdman's new book Fair is the Morning tells a thrilling story of how a discouraged, apathetic, hopeless community was literally made over through the efforts of a courageous country schoolteacher who dared to defy custom and tradition for the sake of a group of fine girls and boys... . Miss Erdman tells of the remaking of Hickory Ridge with a warmth and a depth of sympathy rarely attained by those who write of rural schools.
Texas Outlook; December, 1945.

Summary

Erdman's first adult novel achieved spectacular success, winning the biennial Dodd, Mead-Redbook $10,000 prize. It is the story of how the death of Dade Kenzie, the wise, influential patriarch of a Missouri farming family, affects his family and acquaintances. The story is told through flashbacks in the minds of seven individuals whose lives were profoundly influenced by Kenzie. The action covers the time slightly before Dade's death until after his funeral.

Review Excerpts

Wholesome as the smell of home-made bread just out of the oven and warm as geraniums blooming in a kitchen window, the ninth winner of the Dodd, Mead-Redbook Prize Novel Award is an account of three days in the lives of a substantial family of Missouri farmers... . This is no novel for the super-sophisticated and cynical; it bears no trace of that curse of modern America, the fear of 'being a sucker' or 'sticking your neck out.' Here are the simple virtues, neighborliness, kindliness, domestic devotion, sturdy endurance.
Saturday Review of Literature 30(38):30-31 (September 20, 1947).
The old man and his wife, both dead when the book begins but seen through the reminiscences, are the best characters. The method of presenting the story will discourage some readers, but it is satisfactory as light fiction.
Booklist 44(4):68 (October 15, 1947).
Miss Erdman draws convincing pictures of all the women folk in the book. She has a knack of describing their foibles, their hopes and disillusionments and the workings of their minds with the accurateness of having lived all the experiences herself. It is another matter with the male characters. Miss Erdman is not quite so convincing in her character analysis of Old Dade's sons, grandsons and other male relatives.
Amarillo Times; Amarillo, Texas; September 8, 1947.

Summary

Lonely Passage is about a girl, Thurley Renfro. She does not seem to fit in with the boisterous clan of Pembertons (her mother's family) into which she had been born. She loses the young man she loves but finds peace and fulfillment after turning to another young man who loves her. Erdman named Lonely Passage as one of her personal favorites among her novels even though her publisher called it "a sad little book" (1).

Footnotes

  1. Loula Grace Erdman. A Time to Write (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1969), 137.

Review Excerpts

Lonely Passage, a pleasing story set in rural Missouri, is more than apt to be ranked well ahead of The Years of the Locust... . Lonely Passage is a down-to-earth, human story of ordinary folks in rural Missouri... . The story is a quiet one. No blood and thunder. No machine-gun action. It is more a story of the heart."
Amarillo Sunday News-Globe; Amarillo, Texas; September 19, 1948.
A sensitive and searching study of a proud clan in a small Missouri town... . But Miss Erdman is in no real sense a 'regional' novelist. As the very title of her second novel shows, she is concerned with universal truths and, more precisely, with a certain lyric appreciation and understanding of life.
Dallas Morning News; Dallas, Texas; September 19, 1948.

Summary

In researching Erdman, one often encounters this quote spoken by Aunt Clara in The Edge of Time: "Never was a man yet who didn't fancy himself running right alongside Daniel Boone and maybe even a step or two ahead of him. What I've always wanted to look at is Mrs. Daniel Boone's diary" (1). This novel, often considered Erdman's best book, looked into the lives of the "nester" women who helped settle the Texas Panhandle. The Edge of Time tells the story of Wade and Bethany Cameron, a young Missouri couple who set out in a covered wagon right after their wedding ceremony in 1885 to homestead in the Texas Panhandle. Wade married Bethany "on the rebound" after his intended bride, Bethany's beautiful cousin Rosemary, married a rich banker. Bethany, who had always secretly loved Wade, cannot help wondering if she is second in her husband's heart. The story follows the young couple as they deal with the hardships of life in the sparsely settled Texas Panhandle of the 1880s. The Family Reading Club chose The Edge of Time as the October 1950 selection. A proposed movie project failed because Erdman refused to allow the addition of a range war. She knew from her meticulous research that such events almost never occurred in the settlement of the Texas Panhandle.

Footnotes

  1. Loula Grace Erdman. The Edge of Time (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1950), 25-26.

Review Excerpts

Primarily it is a story of women--the women who took the long wagon journey with their husbands into a country of stark newness; who faced the ever-present threat of droughts and blizzards and the terrible prairie grass fires; who planted rose bushes and bore children, and then saw to it that their children had good homes and schools and churches.
Amarillo Daily News; Amarillo, Texas; June 11, 1950.
This excellent homesteading chronicle brings a young couple, Wade and Bethany Cameron, to the Texas Panhandle in the 1880s. The long wagon journey from Missouri, the dugout home, the few neighbors are as authentic as photographs in an album, and Miss Erdman views them with sympathy and pride. The slight plot is sustained. The style is keyed to the woman's viewpoint which dominates the story. A well-made old-fashioned novel, as good to own as one of Bethany's quilts.
News; Dallas, Texas; December 10, 1950.
The Edge of Time brings an appealingly romantic story and with it insight into one of the kinds of pioneering that has gone to make the nation.
The New York Herald-Tribune; New York, New York; October 29, 1950.

Summary

The Wind Blows Free is the first book in Erdman's trilogy about the Pierce family of "nesters" who homesteaded in the Texas Panhandle in the 1890s. The novel follows their difficulties as they try to wrench a living from the dry land. The Pierce family has three daughters, and the first novel tells the story of the oldest daughter, 14-year-old Melinda. This novel won the Dodd, Mead-American Girl Award as the best family book.

Review Excerpts

Here is a book, while intended for older girls, that should prove interesting to young people of either sex. It is another of those absorbing, well-written and easy-to-read stories by Loula Grace Erdman... .
Advertiser; Montgomery, Alabama; October 19, 1952.
...an exceptionally fine story for older girls... . we feel the authenticity of the background and the material, and the story shows Loula Erdman's sympathy and understanding of the incredible hardships that the young women, especially, were faced with when they first settled in the Texas Panhandle.
Argonaut; San Francisco, California; September 19, 1952.

Summary

A clipping from Junior Reviewer in one of Erdman's scrapbooks provides a summary of My Sky is Blue:

Jinny Craig finds herself teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in New Mexico after a broken romance back in Missouri. She has to live in an adobe house with an almost strange woman, after making an enemy of her landlord for reasons she can't fathom. Her big teaching problem is racial prejudice--Mexicans aren't welcome in the community. For having the courage to stay when she wants to run home, and for being resourceful, she finds an answer to each of her problems--including her romantic one.
Junior Reviewer; Newton Centre, Massachusetts; December, 1953; page number not included with clipping.

Review Excerpts

A nice, refreshing story well told, with plenty of atmosphere and lots of suspense.
Junior Reviewer; Newton Centre, Massachusetts; December, 1953.
It is that rare book for the teenager, a good story with suspense, romance and humor and not too goody-goody... . My Sky is Blue is a good wholesome but not insipid story for young readers.
Savannah News; Savannah, Georgia; November 15, 1953.
The plotting... is far above average for intricacy, cohesiveness, and movement. Each character is a vital individual... . It is fine to have in a teenage romance a hero and heroine who are both young and intelligent, and who see their love as a serious and permanent thing of much happiness and just as much responsibility.
Books on Trial; October, 1953.

Summary

Three at the Wedding starts and ends with a wedding, the same wedding. The story takes place chiefly in the thoughts and memories of three women watching the ceremony who played key roles in the lives of the couple getting married. Erdman said of this novel: "Even now, I still think it was one of the best books I have done--that it went more deeply into the minds and hearts of my characters than I have ever done before or since" (1).

Footnotes

  1. Loula Grace Erdman. A Time to Write (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1969), 200.

Review Excerpts

This romantic novel will move quickly off the shelves of circulating libraries and give the kind of satisfying return the reader looks for when she asks for a 'good story.' And she it will be, for this is a woman's tale to be enjoyed vicariously and to be examined with feminine delight in every romantic detail the author supplies so knowingly.
The New York Times; New York, New York; January 31, 1954.
Three at the Wedding is a quietly and simply written novel, with so sure a grasp of both subject matter and organization that only in retrospect does one realize the very considerable technical achievement of its six chapters.
New York Herald Tribune; New York, New York; December 6, 1953.
This book is outstanding because of Miss Erdman's understanding of human nature as revealed in the lives of these three very different types of women. Besides being a good story it will be helpful to those contemplating matrimony.
Citizen; Hollywood, California; October 15, 1953.

Summary

Catherine Delaney's plans to travel from Missouri with her uncle and son to join her husband on their Texas Panhandle homestead go awry when her uncle is killed enroute. Catherine decides to go on alone and faces many hardships and harrowing experiences on the trail to Texas.

Review Excerpts

This is a mildly adventuresome, mildly romantic historical novel which is well written and minus the pornographic filth which so many historical novelists seem to feel is an essential part of the history.
Citizen Columbus, Ohio; August 28, 1955.
Loula Grace Erdman, who is as well known for her excellent juvenile stories as for her novels, here achieves a book of strength and inspiration that will hold every adult reader but that observes the decencies so that it will be one to recommend to young people making the transition from teenage books to adult books. We foresee that it will be a favorite in the 'young adult' room of libraries and will make its way into the recommended lists for schools.
Post; Houston, Texas; August 18, 1955.
It takes a homely, simple story like this to remind Americans of the heroism of our own great-grandmothers, and our great-greats, who crossed the plains in covered wagons, forded rivers, fought off Indians, braved dust storms, wild animals, blizzards and bad men in order that America might live.
Herald; Miami, Florida; September 11, 1955.

Summary

The Wide Horizon continues the story of the Pierce family who homesteaded in the Texas Panhandle. This novel revolves around Katie, the second daughter. Katie is an artistic, sensitive, dreamer who lives for the day she can go back to East Texas to live with her grandmother and attend a girls' academy. However, the grandmother's ill health forces Katie's mother to return to East Texas immediately, leaving the inexperienced Katie in charge of the household. The novel shows Katie increasing in maturity and judgment as she takes responsibility for the family home. Erdman's niece, Elizabeth Erdman, designed the original book jacket.

Review Excerpts

Like Miss Erdman's previous works, The Wide Horizon covers a sweeping canvas, and her story moves with warmth and with controlled drama. One of our most sensitive novelists, the Texas writer goes far beneath surfaces; her characters breathe and laugh and grow. The lovely story is recommended for all young ladies.
Press-Telegram; Long Beach, California; September 30, 1956.
Although The Wide Horizon is primarily written for older girls, the story's appeal is much wider. Miss Erdman's insight into human emotions, especially where they concern the hidden fears and apprehensions of her characters, is at its best in her latest novel, and offers a depth not ordinarily found in books designed for a particular age group.
Amarillo Daily News; Amarillo, Texas; October 11, 1956.

Summary

A clipping from an Erdman scrapbook summarized The Short Summer:

The time is the summer of 1914--in the prosperous, complacent, smug, tremendously naive period just before the assassination of an Austrian archduke at Sarajevo set off the first world war. The theme is an exploration of the question, 'Is it possible for people to be untouched by what happens to other people?'
Plainview Daily Herald; Plainview, Texas; May 13, 1958; page number not included with clipping

Review Excerpts

Modest in scope and emotional range, 'The Short Summer' achieves the status of a tranquilizer rather than a stimulant. Graceful and unpretentious, its appeal is directed chiefly to those who can recall the pre-war era of which Miss Erdman writes. To these, her scenes and characters will have all the validity of a cherished daguerreotype... .
Courier Journal; Louisville, Kentucky; October 26, 1958.

Summary

The Good Land is the last in the trilogy of the Pierce family of Panhandle homesteaders. It belongs to the youngest daughter, Carolyn, now 15. She experiences some of the difficulties of growing up as "the baby of the family." Also, Carolyn rescues her sister Katie's floundering romance and helps an immigrant family new to the Panhandle.

Review Excerpts

It is a story of family life, of neighborliness and of a girl in adolescence--the baby of the family yearning to be treated as an adult--that comes alive in Miss Erdman's book. She convincingly describes the girl's feelings and relationships with her relatives and beau... . Beyond the principle narrative lies the story of a family managing to live a full life with meager trimmings. This is a family who stuck it out on the plains.
Amarillo Sunday News-Globe; Amarillo, Texas; August 16, 1959.

Summary

Many a Voyage is the story of Fannie Ross, the wife of Senator Edmund Ross, the man whose vote saved President Andrew Johnson from conviction during the historic impeachment trial. The book jacket explains:

... the remarkable story of one woman's odyssey in following her husband through the most taxing years of America's past. In telling it, Loula Grace Erdman gives a memorable portrait of the half-century that encompassed the bitter anti-slavery struggle, the Civil War and its chaotic aftermath in the Reconstruction era.
Loula Grace Erdman. Many a Voyage (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1960).

Review Excerpts

[Erdman] chronicles the life of Edmund G. Ross, the Kansas senator whose deciding vote saved Andrew Johnson from impeachment. Events are seen through the eyes of his wife Fannie... . Chief appeal for women readers.
Booklist 57(10):292-293 (January 1961).

Summary

From book jacket:

The novel and the stories in this volume are varied in mood and theme, but they all reveal Miss Erdman's skill in getting below the surface of everyday life. The novel, The Man Who Told the Truth, is about a stranger in a Texas town. Oddly reticent about his own past, his personal observations about other peoples' lives brought understanding and help to some, love to others. Then ... the townspeople learned his secret.
Loula Grace Erdman. the Man Who Told The Truth (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1962).

Review Excerpts

If you're looking for light reading, or pleasant short stories with happy endings, this book is for you. Miss Erdman is a skillful story teller who gets beneath the surface in the lives of her characters.
News Sentinel; Fort Wayne, Indiana; February 25, 1962.
This book contains a short novel and six short stories. Each piece is written with a sort of small-town, old-fashioned charm. The way of life which forms the author's point of view is not really a thing of the past, but because so much fiction of today concerns a faster paced, less settled sort of life, it is rather pleasant to dip into this volume and see life moving more slowly and thoughtfully.
Best Sellers; Scranton, Pennsylvania; February 15, 1962.

Summary

A clipping from Erdman's scrapbook contains this summary of Room to Grow:

In 1901 the French Danton family came to America to settle in the Texas Panhandle. There Celeste, Michele and Mamma sometimes were homesick, but that never lasted long. Soon all of the Dantons participate in existing events, such as the pie supper for which Papa auctions off the pies. Another is when Pierre and Celeste go alone to the roundup to claim their cattle. Almost before they realized it, the Dantons were Americans. Ages 8-12.
Press; Cleveland, Ohio; November 5, 1962; page number not included with clipping

Review Excerpts

It is a lively and beguiling account with accent on the not often stressed French heritage in Texas. Most heartily recommended.
News; Dallas, Texas; November 11, 1962.

Summary

Life was Simpler Then contains articles and essays that portray life as it was during Erdman's youth in rural Missouri.

Review Excerpts

[Life was Simpler Then] is sure to strike a nostalgic chord in the memory of anyone over 40 who remembers a middle class upbringing in the country or a small town in the late teens or early 20s... . Readers of her fiction will find... a key to many of the ideas and attitudes reflected in her earlier books.
Amarillo Sunday News-Globe; Amarillo, Texas; August 11, 1963.
Life was Simpler Then is divided into four seasons, and it unerringly sets down dear, and for the most part, departed domestic rites and festivals which engrossed a family of children 30 or 40 years ago... . There's hardly anything in the book which you don't wish had been preserved and brought along into the now of the twentieth century.
Amarillo Sunday News-Globe; Amarillo, Texas; October 25, 1964.

Summary

This book is a collection of 14 short stories for young people. It contains both fiction and non-fiction.

Review Excerpts

As always, Miss Erdman's writing is tailor-made for her audience, a fact which has endeared her to librarians and teachers. And young people are sure to enjoy her crisp, clear, fast-paced style and will best appreciate her knack, acquired from years of teaching, for young characters believable to others. There is great variety in the stories and enough romance in them to suit young sentimentalists.
Amarillo Sunday News-Globe; Amarillo, Texas; April 26, 1964.
...a collection of short stories written to the youngsters' tastes, tangy and bittersweet, full of fully realized characters, any story of which might be a contender for place in an adult collection of best stories of the year.
News; Dallas, Texas; August 23, 1964.

Summary

Another Spring depicts the misery of dislocation visited upon thousands of Missourians in 1863 as a result of the infamous military Order Number Eleven. As the book jacket explains:

... the military order was posted in four western counties of Missouri, banishing by federal edict all inhabitants, sympathizers of the Union as well as the Confederacy. Harried by roaming hostile bands, their homes burned, thousands fled the proscribed areas. Erdman's novel follows two families as they struggle to survive.
Loula Grace Erdman. Another Spring (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1966).

Review Excerpts

Not a story of battlefield glory and horror, this is a novel of the helplessness of innocent persons displaced by the absurdities of war. Miss Erdman is at her best when writing as she has done before, of Missouri, and her knowledge of the region and its people and her research of the era contribute much. Another Spring is for all libraries wishing to add good historical fiction of the Civil War period.
Library Journal 91(19):5428 (November 1, 1966).
A well-told novel of regional history, of special interest to Kansans and Missourians.
Publishers Weekly 190(17):45 (October 24, 1966).

Summary

A Time to Write is Erdman's autobiography. It focuses more on her writing life than on her personal life and contains much good, practical advice for aspiring writers. Erdman's tone is humorous, self-effacing, and engaging. Her clear writing style draws the reader effortlessly through the book. Persons interested in Erdman's life may wish to visit the Cornette Library Erdman Collection and read her personal journals (1936 to 1976).

Review Excerpts

This is more than a how-to book--although many readers will find interesting her counsel on finding and organizing material. Her writing-reminiscences fill many of her most enjoyable pages; she writes with an easy charm... . A warm, informal book, not 'literary' but unpretentious and easy to take.
Publishers Weekly 195(4):96 (January 27, 1969).
Now in A Time to Write this Texan by adoption writes informally (and always interestingly) about writing and research, her own career, her relations with publishers, and the rewards--and frustrations--of a writer's life. Necessarily autobiographical, her engaging story is both modestly and honestly written. She records her disappointments as well as her triumphs.
Wichita Falls Times; Wichita Falls, Texas; May 4, 1969.

Summary

From book jacket:

Nancy Sullivan was only sixteen, but already she'd had adventures to last a lifetime. Her family had made the trip overland by wagon train from Illinois when everyone had 'gold fever.' Papa never made it to San Francisco, but Nancy and her mother buckled down and made a living there by serving meals. And then her mother died, and Nancy was faced with a decision: to carry on alone, or try to hunt up Cousin Matilda in New Orleans. Veiled threats headed her back East, and this is the colorful story of her return trip across the Isthmus of Panama.
Loula Grace Erdman. A Bluebird Will Do (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1973).

Review Excerpts

The engaging story is probably true to the times, but the characters are insufficiently developed. Grades 5-9.
Booklist 69(21): 1021 (July 1, 1973).

Summary

Save Weeping for the Night is based on the true story of Erdman's fellow Missourian Bettie Shelby, wife of Confederate general Joseph Shelby. The novel portrays their meeting and follows the couple's lives both before and after the war. Cornette Library's Erdman Collection has a typescript of this novel as well as correspondence between Erdman and her publisher about it.

Review Excerpts

In this fictionalized biography, Bettie Shelby comes across as an echo of her husband, a man who consistently chose the losing side. Rather than swear allegiance to a Carpetbagger government in Missouri, Confederate General Jo Shelby accepted a land grant from Maximillian in Mexico. After the triumph of Benito Juarez, Shelby and his followers were forced to leave the country. Bettie carried their five children from one disaster to another to the next and, according to Erdman, never complained or criticized and literally could not live without her husband, dying only a few months after him. The author, a Missourian who grew up near the Shelby home, is biased toward the Southern cause... .
School Library Journal 21(9):63 (May 21, 1975).
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