Sunday, September 4, 2022

Book Review: "The Land of Little Rain" by Mary Hunter Austin


Summer's a great time for me to read books, especially ones available for my Kindle e-reader. Up the lake at the float cabin, I have easy access to lots of books without having to carry them back and forth in our boat. 

I use my new Kindle Paperwhite with its backlit screen indoors and at night without the need for an external light source. 

My trusty 2010 Kindle Keyboard is the reader of choice while floating in a tube in our natural swimming pool behind the cabin. This old model is less sensitive to heat in direct sunlight and I worry less about dropping it in the water.

My choice for this month's review was read right here while lounging in a cool location on hot summer days.


Summer heat here in Coastal British Columbia is nothing compared to the high and low deserts on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada range in southwestern United States. That arid and sparsely populated environment was chronicled by Mary Hunter Austin in her book The Land of Little Rain, originally published by Houghton-Mifflin in 1903.

Mary Hunter Austin was unique. She traveled mostly alone on foot through California's desert wilderness in the 1890s. Another unique feature was that Austin's books were published under her own name. As such, she became a well recognized early nature writer of the American Southwest. She was also a champion and example for women desiring to break away from stereotypical expectations of the day. In addition to being an author, she was an artist. Her sketches became illustrations in her books.


The Land of Little Rain is a collection of Austin's observations of the people, places, plants and animals of the canyons, hills and deserts east of the southern Sierra Nevada range. Each chapter focuses on a specific area, environment, geologic feature, or interesting inhabitants including miners, shepherds, and Mexican and Native American inhabitants.

Over her lifetime (1868-1934), Austin wrote over 30 books and many more essays, articles and poems for publication. Her early 20th Century prose writing style was typical of that era with long sentences including detailed descriptions. Each phrase creates a vivid mental picture of the subject matter.

I enjoy reading historically based books that take me back to a time gone by. My grandmother always said I was born a generation too late. I think there's a lot of truth to what she said.

Do you like to read historical accounts and memoirs? What are some of your favourites? -- Margy

Visit the monthly Book Review Club for teen/young adult and adult fiction over at Barrie Summy's blog.

Also shared with Your the Star at Stone Cottage Adventures and Kathryn's Book Date

7 comments :

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    1. Because I grew up nearby in Southern California I had been to many of these places as a child and adult. They are still sparsely populated, but I would have loved to experience them back then. - Margy

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  2. You always find unique books to review. I like that because they're not necessarily ones I would've have discovered on my own. Thanks for reviewing.

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  3. This would be an interesting book to read. I do like reading historical accounts. One I recently read (before the summer) was Yukon Lady, about a young woman from Eastern Canada who spent 16 years in the Yukon.

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  4. You live an idyllic life and this sounds like an interesting book! Although, I prefer print books, I replaced my paperwhite with a new one because it's my favorite e-ready for publisher digital galleys and useful for travel too. I'm fascinated with the past, but I'd sooner live now (or maybe pre pandemic) with modern medicine and more equality for women.

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  5. Margy - as others have said, you have a knack for finding unique books. I do enjoy historical accounts, but I don't have any good examples to offer right now - I don't do much reading in the summer!

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Thanks for stopping by. Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome. - Margy