Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Shelby's Creek

Shelby's Creek
Mark Matthiessen
Wave Cloud Corporation
Charleston, South Carolina
ISBN: 978-1-62217-755-4
$ 16.99
306 pages

"The way a person treated nature was the way a person treated human beings."
Everyday farming life in Shelby County, Iowa during 1943  was idyllic.   As an Iowan farmer, life it seems too tranquil for Valentin Schmitz.  Responsibly he farms his 160-acres of fertile farmland near Council Bluffs, refusing to use pesticides, helping his neighbors in need, and contributing to the war effort through rationing, collecting scrap metal, and nurturing his own Victory Garden.
Valentin is a 33-year-old college-educated bachelor who recently separated from the woman he believed was going to be his wife.  While time heals, the challenges of the world and the community frequently occupy his thoughts.  He relaxes by playing his flute and enjoying his art collection.
Valentin longs to enter this war.   He has grandparents currently residing in France where the Nazi occupation has begun.  As his grandfather is arrested and working at a concentration camp due to his religion, Jehovah Witness, Valentin's grandmother hides witnessing the everyday life in this occupied country.  Dealing with the day to day rationing, living under the military law of the Nazis, being dependent on others for your life, is part of the daily routine.
Two thoughts make him hesitate to rescue his grandparents.  The first is that farmers are not to be conscripted since they supply the food the fighters and the nation. 
Secondly, Valentin suffers from certain anxieties.  He has a fear of the dark and has separation anxiety disorder.   To help himself, Valentin keeps flashlights with him at all times. 
How could he possibly serve again in Europe or help his family?  Why would he leave the safety of being a farmer to enter the war in Europe?
His grandparents taught Valentin many life lessons demonstrating words of wisdom to guide him through the challenges of life.   Besides raising Valentin after the death of his parents, he feels indebted to both.
Shelby's Creek enters the world of the French people working behind the scenes fighting for their country during this time with their constant fears and practical problems which unified their citizens with a common enemy.   The part of the French underground is part of the personal voice in this engrossing tale.
Mark Matthiessen knows this story as it is personal to him.  This Shelby County native was born and raised on the1 family's 160l-acre farm which is now operated by the fifth-generation.   He has worked with a computer company while writing their technical manuals.  Recently he is writing articles for national and international magazines.
Shelby's Creek is the first book in this new series by Mark Matthiessen with the next book in this series available this fall.
Shelby's Creek is a work of love of family and the farmland of Shelby County.  The characters are realistic with authentic problems of the time placing the reader into each situation.   Each setting vividly exposes the time and place making the reader feel as if they are the character, creating an enthralling historical journey.  

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