In House of Johann, Kathi Gosz shares her love of 19th-century Rhineland from the perspective of her ancestors, the Rauls, a farming family in the village of Oberzerf. Gosz’s gentle approach is immersive – while events and details were thoroughly researched and information-packed, I experienced them not as though I learned them, but as though I’d lived them as a member of the Rauls family. The writing is straightforward and endearing, setting the perfect tone for relating the joys and heartaches of these unpretentious hard-working folk. Through Gosz’s remarkable tale, we glimpse a slice of the Rhineland during a simpler time – at least as far as the technology goes. For when it comes to the strong-willed Rauls, we are reminded that few things in life are as complex as family.
Note: Mom knew Kathi Gosz in passing when they were both students at St. Mary’s High School in Menasha. I’m sorry Mom didn’t get a chance to read this–historical fiction was her favorite genre, and I’m sure it would have made her smile.