Nebraska Center for Writers

Chimney Rock What the Critics Say
About Mildred Walker

The Body of a Young Man
The Brewers' Big Horses
Dr. Norton's Wife
Light from Arcturus
Medical Meeting
The Quarry
Unless the Wind Turns
Winter Wheat



The Body of a Young Man
Copyright © 1997
by Mildred Walker
U of Nebraska P

James Cutler, a high school physics teacher, is shattered by the suicide of his most promising student. Hoping to gain perspective and peace of mind, he travels with his wife, Phyllis, to Vermont to spend the summer at the farm of old friends, Josh and Lucy Blair. The Body of a Young Man is a deeply moving story of four people whose friendship asks more than they can give and offers more than they can take. Only in observing another tragedy does James begin to see vulnerability as a virtue and ambiguity as a source of strength. — from the jacket

A thoughtful novel, tinged with irony.— Christian Science Monitor

The atmosphere is warm, tense, and sympathetic, and so is the writing. — New Yorker

[Walker] has commented on an important subject with sincerity. — New York Times Book Review

Sensitive and well written. — Library Journal

An understanding and interesting exploration of personalities and emotions. — Booklist



The Brewers' Big Horses
Copyright © 1996
by Mildred Walker
U of Nebraska P

Little Sara Bolster loved the great shining horses that drew the Henkel brewery wagon through the streets of Detroit in the 1880s. Those horses came to signify her fate, for she married the Henkel son and later, as a widow, took over the business. Sara’s struggle against the intolerance and hypocrisy of family and friends who disapproved of a woman running a brewery and opening a beer garden makes her a standout among the characters of Mildred Walker. The Brewers’ Big Horses recreates the manners and traditions of Germans in America as Prohibition gets up steam. — from the jacket

[The Brewers’ Big Horses] has suspense and gripping interest....The story is told quietly, with balance and realism and with the subtlety which is itself the effortless effect of restraint. The characters are drawn with few strokes, but increasingly they take on intimacy as well as significance in the reader’s mind....Mildred Walker has drawn upon assimilated knowledge and searching individual thought, and the story has substance and vitality, convincing and unstrained. — New York Times


Dr. Norton's Wife
Copyright © 1996
by Mildred Walker
U of Nebraska P

Dr. Norton's Wife was praised for its quiet honesty and artistic integrity when it was first published in 1938. It stands up firmly as a portrait of a marriage subjected to the strain of unexpected invalidism. As a doctor's wife, Sue Norton is no stranger to matters of life and death. But medical shoptalk screens her from the realities of illness until she is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Never clinical, Walker, herself the wife of a doctor, accurately describes the disease's progress and the adjustments necessary to cope with it. The result is a tender story of "the marriage of true minds." — from the jacket

An honest, straightforward little novel....The author has a precise feeling for the atmosphere, the personalities, and the intrigues of a small medical college. — New Yorker

[A] disturbing book....For those who are interested in the world of unuttered thoughts, Dr. Norton’s Wife will prove an absorbing study. — New York Times


Light from Arcturus
Copyright © 1995
by Mildred Walker
U of Nebraska P

Stuck in the middle of Nebraska in the late nineteenth century, Julia Hauser felt restless. "The four walls of her parlor bound her world too securely," writes Mildred Walker. But what could she do? She was married to a dull small-town merchant and soon confined by children. She lacked money and social position. Light from Arcturus shows how Julia stepped beyond sacrifice and duty, impressed herself on a larger scene, fed her spirit, and grew in dignity. Grounded in memorable events, this novel illustrates the significance of the period's great world's fairs to the early settlers. The milestones in Julia's progress are trips to the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 and to the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 and in 1933. Readers of the early prairie novels of Willa Cather will recognize Julia Hauser. — from the jacket

You are either a Mildred Walker enthusiast or you are missing one of the best writers on the American scene. — Philadelphia Inquirer

Walker tells this simple tale with understanding, spirit, and a decent regard for the rules of English syntax....It is unpretentious and often charming. — Nation

Substantial and satisfying....She has packed a great deal of life and color into her book. — New York Times

Excellent reading. Walker has a good gift at narrative and the ability to make her characters interesting. — Christian Science Monitor


Medical Meeting
Copyright © 1997
by Mildred Walker
U of Nebraska P

Dr. Henry Baker and his wife, Liz, have spent twelve years developing a cure for tuberculosis. Working at a lab in their home, they have persisted without adequate funding and assistance, sacrificing new clothes and vacations to make their contribution to humanity. Tests have so far proved very encouraging. At the beginning of Medical Meeting they are ready to announce their discovery at a convention in Chicago. What promises to be a reward for years of work, a great moment to savor, turns into a disaster, professionally and possibly personally. — from the jacket

People who wail "I don’t see any reason why doctors don’t discover a cure for ———" would do well to read Medical Meeting. Mildred Walker’s quiet, tragic novel of a young research scientist and his wife is a penetrating account of one of the major reasons [for failure]. — New York Times

Walker’s integrity, understanding and unerring dramatic sense plus sound construction make this superior fiction. — Library Journal

Filled with knowing touches, clear sidelights on human nature, and specific clinical details, this provides far better than average reading. — Kirkus


The Quarry
Copyright © 1995
by Mildred Walker
U of Nebraska P

In this family saga, generations mine the Vermont earth and come to rest in it. Lyman Converse is too young to fight in the Civil War, but he lives to see his own son enlist in World War I. Through all the years his closest friend is Easy, an escaped black slave who took refuge in his father's house. Everything Converse values most is gradually lost to time, including the family-owned soapstone quarry. The Quarry invites readers to escape into private lives worth caring about — and to feel the national history that they could not escape. Originally published in 1947 and considered one of Mildred Walker's richest novels.

A warm, moving book, a touch old-fashioned, and very American. — New Yorker

A satisfying piece of work, well constructed and well written. As a regional novel, it gives a convincing delineation of upstate Vermont in the period between the Civil War and World War One, and it also leaves the reader with the pleasing consciousness that maintaining a standard of conduct — such things as tolerance, integrity, and loyalty — can make good fiction material. — Christian Science Monitor

Walker has done a fine bit of documentation on what might be called the deflowering of New England. — New York Times


Unless the Wind Turns
Copyright © 1996
by Mildred Walker
U of Nebraska P

John Davis has a "dull aching sense of missing out, of not getting anywhere." There must be millions like him, he thinks. His relations with his wife, Serena, are shallow and unsatisfying. In the late 1930s, he tries to rekindle their marriage by bringing her to a special place from his past — the Montana mountains. He is chagrined when she asks other people to join them on the camping trip. Plans are further disrupted by a catastrophe — a forest fire that rages uncontrolled for three days. Forced to reach outward to others in this crisis, the members of the party ultimately have to face themselves as well. Unless the Wind Turns is fast-moving and psychologically nuanced.

You are either a Mildred Walker enthusiast or you are missing one of the best writers on the American scene. — Philadelphia Inquirer

Miss Walker knows all about forest fires and this is a monstrous and murdering one, most graphically described. — New York Times



Winter Wheat
Copyright © 1992
by Mildred Walker
U of Nebraska P

Describes a young woman’s emotional and spiritual awakening as she confronts the disappointments and marvels of love....Walker’s heroine recognizes that love, like winter wheat, requires faith and deep roots to survive the many hardships that threaten its endurance. — Belles Lettres

Her novel Winter Wheat is a classic, a bit in the vein of Cather's My Antonia. — Charlotte Zoe Walker


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