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Bookreporter Talks To

Jan 12, 2021

Melanie Benjamin, the New York Times bestselling author of Mistress of the Ritz and The Swans of Fifth Avenue, returns to our podcast and video series to discuss her new novel, The Children's Blizzard. This blizzard, so named in 1888, provides the backdrop for the book, and  gives readers insight into what happened in the Dakota Territory on that fateful day 133 years ago.  The book is framed around the story of two sisters who were young school teachers on the day of the storm. Students headed to class on a winter morning that was more mild than usual, but a blizzard then struck without warning. The schoolteachers, teen girls not much older than the children themselves, were forced to make survival decisions that could mean life or death for the children in their classes. Pulling from research into the historical stories of survivors, the novel plunges you into both the danger of the blizzard itself and its aftermath, which changes the lives of those who were in its path. Melanie also explores the migration west, which often brought immigrants to make this journey looking for a promised land and the struggles that they encountered  They explore Melanie’s research and the level of realism at play in the novel, referencing the deeply personal stories Melanie was able to explore, which are so often lost in history books. Melanie shares how the people in this book relate to her own life, and the sources of inspiration that led her to write this book.

Books discussed in this episode:

The Children's Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin

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Audio excerpted courtesy Penguin Random House Audio from The Children's Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin, narrated by Cassandra Campbell.