This book was well written, and not at all the feminist tract I was afraid it would be. The unhappy existence of Judith and the other women in her rural Kentucky area can be seen as being limited by traditional gender roles. It's also clear, however, that men and women alike suffered from the crushing poverty that perpetuated hunger, disease, and lack of education. It's a depressing but fascinating look at everyday life in the rural America of the early 20th century.
From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Erica Bauermeister
"In the backwoods corners of America, where the people have been poor and benighted for several generations and where for as many generations no new blood has entered...the children are mostly dull of mind and scrawny of body. Not infrequently, however, there will be born a child of clear features and strong, straight body, as a reminder of earlier pioneer days when clear features and strong straight bodies were the rule rather than the exception." Judith Pippinger is one of these strong, straight children, brought up in poverty on the family farm, determined to escape the life she sees around her but inexorably pulled into it by pregnancy, marriage, and unending work. Despite the hardships, there is something triumphant in this story that comes both from Judith's indomitable, fighting personality and from Edith Summers Kelley's ability to show the raw beauty in a world laden with pain and frustration. There are moments of wonder and intimacy, often between unlikely combinations of people. Most of all, there is life, which Edith Summers Kelley describes unflinchingly, even down to a graphic description of childbirth which was edited out by the publishers when Weeds was first issued in 1928. Though bleak in general outlook, it is lush with details and emotions and gathers power from its unconquerable heroine and Edith Summers Kelley's resolution to look life straight in the eye."
This is one of those rare books where you feel you are actually living in the dirt poor shack of this strong, if spirited young woman. It completely absorbed me!!