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Saturday, January 1, 2022

Falling Forward A Woman's Journey West

Literary recognition and accolades for Pat Jurgens's debut and award-winning novel “Falling Forward A Woman's Journey West” are well deserved. The story of Louisa Steinbacher, a 17-year-old Mennonite young woman, is a saga of self-discovery and coming of age set in the historical west near the turn of the century. With Jurgens's meticulous research and period details, Louisa's story comes alive. The reader learns more about the foundations of the Mennonite community that shapes her story. The insertion of Germanic dialect in the story adds authenticity to the story. Jurgens's vivid descriptive writing gives readers a sense of place from the farmlands of Ohio, to the unforgiving desert landscape of CA, to the majestic mountains of CO. It's an engaging story that moves the pacing of the story along. 

Louisa has a dream wanting to leave the restrictive close-knit Mennonite community and carve her own path. With her mother's sudden death Louisa's plans are put on hold as she assumes the role of running the family household. Sometime later a marriage proposal from Thomas, a hired hand on the farm, offers Louisa a chance to move away from a world that has shunned her and to follow her dreams. The couple and their two small children leave the Mennonite community for a new life in CA following Thomas's dream. Failure to start a successful farming venture adds to the couple's disappointments. Thomas's accident and sudden death set in motion a new life for Louisa and her young children she never could have envisioned. After a series of jobs and finding she needed more financial security for her children, Louisa moves from CA and finally settles in Golden, CO. She finds inner strength and solace living among the mountains overcoming the challenges and obstacles of a single mom who faces navigating a patriarch society. With determined resolve and her forward-thinking ideas, Louisa opens a bakery and tea room despite encountering political hindrances and male chauvinism. Louisa also finds herself swept up in the suffrage movement finding camaraderie with like-minded women in her community. The author makes keen observations about women's roles during this era. Louisa is beginning to forge a new life.

Jurgens skillfully adds a depth of emotion to her rich characters whose relationships are often complex. Readers who enjoy stories about women that are strong, courageous, resilient, and determined will certainly find Louisa's story embodies all these traits. She is a likable character to be admired for her strong sense of family and work ethic. Reading Louisa's story is like reading her diary being privy to her inner thoughts, hopes, and dreams. Louisa's journey of self-discovery and spiritual awakening was a refreshing read. A bit of a twist and a turn develops toward the end of the story when a family secret is unveiled impacting Louisa's choice setting her heart on a different course.

Falling forward in life enables you to dream big and take risks. By learning from one's mistakes one can definitely avoid falling back. Jurgens successfully creates Lousia character who embraces this philosophy.

Louisa's Bakery Golden, CO
Imagine this historic building at 13th & Washington Sts. as Louisa's Golden Bakery. It still stands today, with its odd configuration of a corner front door. It was a perfect location, across the street from the Golden Tramway Depot (vintage photo below) where people traveled daily to and from Denver.

Meet the Author
As a writer, Pat Jurgens brings a broad wealth of experience to her pen. Over the years she has taken leadership in government, the nonprofit sector, and business: managing a public library, developing an international homestay start-up, and assisting people in transition for corporate relocation. She has trained employees and facilitated groups and lectured in Kunming, China. Since moving to Evergreen, Colorado in 2000, Pat has published more than fifty essays, biographical sketches, and historical articles in local and regional magazines. She also dabbles in memoir and poetry, contributing to several anthologies and winning awards from the Denver Women’s Press, Poetry Society of Colorado, and Jefferson County Historical Commission.
Jurgens is the recipient of
Follow the link to the author's website where you find more of Louisa's recipes and historical tidbits.
German Rum Balls) Rumkugeln
Cook's Notes;
Makes 2 dozen cookies. They are not baked and are to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container.
  • 1 cup vanilla wafers, crushed, (use a food processor)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup rum or brandy, or a combination 
  • 3 tablespoons hot water
  • Combine the first 4 dry ingredients.
  • Add corn syrup and rum or brandy, mix ingredients thoroughly by hand.
  • Shape into 2-inch balls.
  • Roll in granulated sugar, sprinkles, or powdered sugar.
  • Place on a wax paper-lined plate and refrigerate. Reroll in sugar before serving. 

1 comment:

  1. At first I thought - wait - this isn't a recipe. Then I kept reading. I love rum balls (I use 151) - Thanks for sharing this great post at the Lazy Gastronome's What's for Dinner party - I love to see what you have to bring. Have a wonderful week.


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