Apr 11, 2013


Book Details:
Author: M. Ann Rohrer
Release Date: March 2013
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.
Genre: Historical Fiction

Book Excerpt:
“Mattie pounded her pillow then rolled over and stared at the ceiling. She hated the interfering throngs of people. She hated the mountains of food. She hated the stupid whispering downstairs.
She hated God.
Gentle rains made little difference in the suffocating heat this first day of summer, yet eleven-year-old Martha Ann Sevey shivered. The pungent smell of death, mixed with sweet carbolic acid and saltpeter, seeped through the high-ceiling parlor below. It wafted up through the wood floor right into Mattie’s bedroom invading her olfactory senses. Worse than the odiferous scent was the ghastly vision of her father (she refused to think of him as “the body”). Laid out on a board supported by two sawhorses, he was covered with rags drenched in the offensive mixture. To slow decay, her mother had explained, which conjured dreadful pictures in Mattie’s young, imaginative mind.”

Book Description:
“Mattie” is a historical novel based on the life and times of the author’s maternal grandmother, Martha Ann Sevey Wood, who was born and raised in Colonia Juarez – one of 13 Mormon settlements in Mexico – where presidential candidate Mitt Romney's grandfather lived.
“Mattie” covers the period of 1902-1917, which includes an up close and personal view of Pancho Villa and the turbulence of the Mexican Revolution.
The novel follows Mattie through a crisis of faith, life threatening adventures, and heartbreaking romance. Twice, she falls in love with the wrong men before returning to her roots in Mexico to marry the man she didn’t know she loved.
Then suddenly, war descends on her happily ever after, and Mattie must bring to bear her budding faith and indomitable spirit to survive.
Because of the needs of novels, “Mattie” is not a 100 percent exact telling of Wood's life story, but it's very close. Some of the real life events from which the story was drawn follow:
Born and raised in Colonia Juárez, a Mormon settlement in Chihuahua, Mexico, Wood experienced the Mexican Revolution that began about the time she married Enos Flake Wood.
Six months into their marriage, the settlers had to flee Mexico for a time. Women and children were evacuated by train from Piersen to El Paso, Texas, allowed only 50 pounds of personal items each.
The men left by horseback driving their herds and guarding a wagonload of Hausers borrowed or purchased from the US army. Rumors were rampant, and families had no idea if they would ever see each other again or their homes and all that they left behind.
If the men were caught with US weapons, they would be executed on the spot. The women were held up hours in Casas Grandes, finally allowed to leave around midnight after all their water and means for light were confiscated. Despite the high risk, the exodus, as it has come to be called, was successful without loss of life.
About six months later, settlers began to return to their homes, Mattie and Ene among them.
Ene had a freighting business between Colonia Juarez and Columbus New Mexico. On one trip, Mattie was with him. Revolutionaries, the Red Flaggers, enemies of Pancho Villa, hijacked them.
Ene was to be executed despite Mattie’s desperate pleas. One of the Generals, who knew Ene, interceded. Both Mattie and Ene were released, wagonloads of grains and beans desperately needed by the army were left untouched. Of his own accord, Ene donated several hundred bags to feed the starving solders.
Later in the war, when Pancho Villa was on the run, his rebel soldiers made their way down the street raiding homes. The screams of the neighbor brought Mattie outside.
The Rebels hacked their way through a locked door and entered the woman’s house. Nothing would prevent the soldiers, and Mattie’s house was next. She was alone with her mother-in-law and older Uncle.
The uncle was sent to hide the horse. Mattie and Jane quickly made a sumptuous breakfast of potatoes, eggs and biscuits. When the soldiers stopped at their house, Mattie threw open the door and invited them in.
“Pase, Pase, hace mucho frio.”
Six grizzled, desperate revolutionaries entered peacefully, ate the meal prepared for them, politely offering their thanks, and left, taking a bundle of food Mattie and Jane gathered from the larder. Humbly subdued, it is reported that the soldiers then left town, saving the next neighbors from pillage and plunder.
Ene actually had an interview with Pancho Villa. Villa praised the Mormon community, saying that they were doing with Mormonism what he was trying to do with the sword.
When General Villa was in power, he kept his soldiers under control and the settlers experienced little harassment. When the United States sided with General Carranza instead of Pancho Villa for President of Mexico, Villa went on a rampage. vowing to kill all the gringos.
Villa began in Columbus, New Mexico, massacring unsuspecting soldiers of the US army, then headed to the Mormon settlements to do the same. News came to Mormons. Their ecclesiastical leaders told them to go home and turn out the lights. The settlers went home and waited.
Come morning, they learned that, for some inexplicable reason, Villa skirted the settlements in his flight further south.
Locations from Mattie

My Review:
Mattie is an amazing woman! I can't even imagine all that she endured. What strength she had! What determination! I so enjoyed learning more about the Mexican Revolution through the eyes of someone who was there. 

I really LOVED the part that said:
"Life returned to normal, as normal as a life gets with a husband on the run in the middle of a war. And political unrest had heightened, hanging over Colonia Juarez like a guillotine, Still, meals had to be prepared, the wash done, butter churned, the mending, and of course, tolerating impertinent visitors."

I highly recommend this book :)

About the Author:
Martha Ann Robinson Rohrer was born in Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. At age nine, she moved with her family to Toquepala, Peru, South America, where they lived for ten years. After attending Juarez Stake Academy in Mexico her sophomore year, she returned to Peru and finished her junior and senior years through correspondence. In 1965, the family returned to the United States, settling in Tucson, Arizona. Ann served a two-year mission to Mexico City, Mexico Mission. She is married to John Rohrer and they live in Pasco, Washington. They have five boys, one daughter, and at present, thirteen grandchildren.

(A digital review copy of this title was provided by the author for this review. However, all reviews are of my own opinion :)


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