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Readers' Reviews:

From the first drop of rain to the final triumph of resurrection after the flood this is a hard book to lay down. bf oswald's characters are carefully drawn, believable, and interesting. I especially enjoyed his descriptions of 19th century homesteading on the Iowa prairie. Really good prose! —Harry James, Mansfield, Ohio

If you read for pleasure, you'll find Flood a pleasure to read. —Florence Stange, Brookpark, Ohio

From the first drop of rain to the final triumph of resurrection after the flood this is a hard book to lay down. bf oswald's characters are carefully drawn, believable, and interesting. I especially enjoyed his descriptions of 19th century homesteading on the Iowa prairie. …Marlene Tarr, —Marlene Tarr, Sebring, FL

I finished your book, and it was just a real page-turner. I couldn't wait to turn to the next page to see how differing situations were going to turn out. Your writing style reminds me sort of Jessamyn West, or Belva Plain, who never let a good thought go astray. Your writing just flows along, and even though there was a plethora of characters, they weren't hard at all to know, and follow. I was surprised and pleased that you included the Amish Community and their way of life in the book, which most folk don't have accurate information about. At any rate, it was almost like I was sitting there listening to a talking book, instead of reading it. I liked the fact that the location was in the country, and the genesis, before the 20th century, was perfect. I don't know how you get your thought processes like ducks in a row, but I do know that it takes not only a lot of research, but a ton of thought to write a good story. The book was a wonderful read, and right up my alley.
—Nancy Pitcher, Avon Park, FL.

Synopsis:

Rain, usually the farmer's friend, becomes the enemy of the Conklin family farm, a farm that began as a homestead on the western Iowa prairie, grew into one of the largest and wealthiest farms in Humboldt County only to be washed away in a catastrophic flood that also destroyed one marriage but gave rise to another.

Nathanial Conklin wanted be a farmer from the time his was a little boy and the Homestead Act of 1862 gave him that opportunity. With a gift from his father and instructions in hand on how to build a sod house he leaves his Ohio home for the Iowa prairie. An astute businessman, he soon greatly increases his holdings, marries, helps grow a village into a prosperous town, and becomes the patron and defender of a beleaguered Amish community. Although his wastrel son will not inherit the farm, he gives Nathaniel a granddaughter who does, but who has to struggle to hold onto the land, only to lose it all and her marriage to the raging waters of Tadpole Creek.

Although not immediately, the receding water grants her the opportunity for a new and happier life.

From the book:

PROLOGUE

It was an innocuous little cloud, scarcely darker than the other scattered grey clouds mixed with puffy white ones being pushed lazily across the sky by a gentle southwest breeze. For a moment it gave a respite from the merciless mid July sun for those under it.

It paused, wept several large drops of rain—not enough even to start steam rising from the over heated asphalt below it—then moved on keeping pace with its cousins.

It was followed not long afterwards by a bigger brother, darker than the first in contrast to a sky now more cloudy than bright. It too seemed to pause, then opened its maw disgorging large drops again, this time in greater numbers, enough to thoroughly wet the pavement and cause rising steam to follow its passing.

The breeze freshened in its wake causing the clouds to move faster. White clouds were pushed to the eastern horizon and began to disappear, as did the patches of blue sky that had smiled down between them.

Darker clouds soon covered the sky from horizon to horizon and it began to rain, gently at first, then harder.

The farmers in this part of Iowa looked up from their chores and smiled. They had worked through too many days of record heat, and worriedly watched crops begin to wilt as a result. This rain looked like it might become a good soaker - the kind of rain that fell at just the right rate to gently sink into the parched earth giving the corn and beans a much needed drink, stimulating the recently cut timothy and alfalfa to put up new growth in preparation for the late summer haying. 

Tadpole Creek, little wider than a drainage ditch, its source hundreds of acres of well-drained fields several miles north and west of town, was, with the exception of a few, small, stagnant pools, bone dry. It usually only ran fresh when the winter snows melted and during the heavier spring and fall rains. No one around could remember the last time it went over its banks, if it ever had.

During the night the rain lost its benevolence but none of its steadiness. What started out falling at the rate of a half-inch an hour was now pouring down at two inches an hour - and getting heavier by the minute.

Dawn seemed to take a long time coming, the sky so heavily laden with waterlogged clouds that scarcely any light could get through. Farmers looked out of their windows, no longer smiling as small ponds began to appear in the dips and swales of their fields, the possible forerunners of drowned crops.

The rain continued throughout the day, now at the rate of three inches an hour. Tadpole Creek became a freshet, burbling merrily along, happy that it had been released from the drought. By noon the creek was making angry sounds. Its ripples and rapids had disappeared, replaced by an on rushing brown torrent bearing detritus that in quieter seasons had accumulated in its bed.

As the farm families and residents of the tiny nearby hamlet sat down to their evening meals, Tadpole Creek exited its banks and began to spread its roiling waters into nearby low lying areas.

And still the rain continued.

Author's Note:
Flood was dedicated to my daughter, son-in-law, granddaughters, and the residents of New Hartford, Iowa who during one terrible month in 2008 suffered an F 5 tornado sandwiched between two devastating floods. The courage and resourcefulness of the people of this small community triumphed over this disaster and the town was rebuilt. Flood is my effort to pay tribute to those who survived and to the memories of those who perished.

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