About the book

The Meaning of Names Copyright: 2014
Publisher: Red Hen Press
ISBN-13: 978-1-5970-9959-2
232 pages

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The Meaning of Names

Stuart, Nebraska is a long way from the battlefields of Western Europe, but it is not immune to the horrors of the First Great War for Peace. Like all communities, it has lost sons and daughters to the fighting, with many more giving themselves over to the hatred only war can engender.

Set in 1918 in the farm country at the heart of America, The Meaning of Names is the story of an ordinary woman trying to raise a family during extraordinary times. Estranged from her parents because she married against their will, confronted with violence and prejudice against her people, and caught up in the midst of the worst plague the world has ever seen, Gerda Vogel, an American of German descent, must find the strength to keep her family safe from the effects of a war that threatens to consume the whole world.

Source: Red Hen Press

Praise for the novel:

The Meaning of Names is a major addition to the literary canon of the Great Plains, contributing deeply to our understanding of the immigrant experience during the years of WWI when the 100% American campaign pitted Americans against one another. In the midst of this fraught political moment, a small cast of characters in Stuart, Nebraska quietly plays out their communal and familial roles until they’re brought together in a dramatic struggle for life. The Meaning of Names is a breath-taking story that illuminates the bonds that hold us together and the fears that tear us apart while spotlighting the endurance and love of one woman and her family.
                                                                    Ladette Randolph, author of Haven’s Wake


Karen Shoemaker’s rich historical novel is reminiscent of the fiction of Willa Cather and every bit as memorable. Shoemaker captures the hearts and souls of her characters in intricate, poetic detail even as she tells a story of lives rent by suspicion and wartime prejudice. Against the dramatic skies of the Great Plains, and the beauty of the landscape, unfolds a tale of faith and science, love and death.
                                                            Timothy Schaffert, author of The Swan Gondola