Stretching three quarters of a century, from roughly 1870 to 1945, A Strenuous Day traces the lives of Harve and Hattie England of Maryville, Missouri, an otherwise ordinary couple caught up in events which transformed their lives. In telling their story, Mahood comes to know his grandparents, who are a very real part of a period in history marked by a World War, a flu epidemic, the likes of Charles Lindbergh, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and distinguished by the Great Depression. Mahood deftly pieces together this chronicle of the Englands from diaries, letters, local records, newspapers, and oral history and shows how they navigated family, work, small town politics, and a defining tragedy that occurred while Harve served as County Sheriff. This merging of narrative, family history, and social history offers an intimate historical approach and broad insight into the “American experience” of the rural Midwest.
Reviewed by: Allison Brown