Shelf Control #222: Two Old Women by Velma Wallis

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

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Title: Two Old Women: An Alaska Legen of Betrayal, Courage and Survival
Author: Velma Wallis
Published: 1993
Length: 140 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Based on an Athabascan Indian legend passed along for many generations from mothers to daughters of the upper Yukon River Valley in Alaska, this is the suspenseful, shocking, ultimately inspirational tale of two old women abandoned by their tribe during a brutal winter famine.

Though these women have been known to complain more than contribute, they now must either survive on their own or die trying. In simple but vivid detail, Velma Wallis depicts a landscape and way of life that are at once merciless and starkly beautiful. In her old women, she has created two heroines of steely determination whose story of betrayal, friendship, community and forgiveness “speaks straight to the heart with clarity, sweetness and wisdom” (Ursula K. Le Guin).

How and when I got it:

I bought a copy several years ago.

Why I want to read it:

I love Alaska, and love reading fiction set in Alaska. I also love myths and legends. Sooner or later, reading lists related to Alaska, legends, or a combination of both feature Two Old Women — a book I’ve seen displayed prominently on the Native Alaskan fiction shelf in giftshops across Alaska. I think I’ve been missing out by not reading this sooner, and considering the length, I imagine it’s a quick read.

What do you think? Would you read this book? 

Please share your thoughts!


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  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
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