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Book synopsis FOR: FLESH ON THE BONE -  

FLESH ON THE BONE is third in a trilogy of treasured family sagas based on the author's great-grandparents and now in this novel, her grandparents.  Children of immigrants, Jake and Raisa Kessel are married in 1920; by 1925 they have two children of their own and a pile of growing debt. Hungry for new horizons, they pack up and head east to big city adventure and bright lights of Port Huron, Michigan. It's the Roaring Twenties, they are  'in the money' and living 'high on the hog'. It only takes a few years to run headlong into the Great Depression, mounting debt and soup lines.  Jake has to make some fast money to get his family out of Michigan and back to the safety of their Wyoming farm. He isn't choosy about what he has to do. A job is a job even if it might be illegal of dangerous.

This remarkably accurate account of life during the Roaring Twenties, Dirty Thirties, and WWII hits the mark. Schutte sheds light with ethnic simplicity on just how difficult life was and how the spirit of people endures.  She shows no fear in laying the tension, poverty, and heart-wrenching daily lives of her characters on the table. Schutte writes vividly explicit verse, getting into the heads and hearts of her readers. This book, this story will stay with you for a long time.

Alan K. Simpson, U.S, Senator, Wuo. (retired) endorses Schutte's novel. "This award-winning Wyoming author presents another splendid novel. It showcases Schutte's storytelling talents and her engaging ability to empathize with the characters as she paints a picture of powerful emotion for the reader."











                        A Historical Novel based on true stories from The Volga


                                                                             By Karen Schutte

One page Synopsis:

 Destined to a life of servitude, Karl Kessel, a turn-of-the-century German immigrant from a Danube Swabian settlement in Surtschin, Yugoslavia receives an unexpected gift of The Ticket, to America.  Grasping his dream he leaves behind his young wife, Katja and two small sons. Karl boards the KronPrinz Wilheim and sails for a country he knows nothing about, only that it promises the opportunity he covets.  When he arrives in America, he becomes consumed and obsessed with the unwavering desire to be the owner of a farm—to be his own man. But first he must survive an unspeakable horror. 

            In 1906, when Katja Kessel steps from the train with their three small sons, she faces the inhospitable wilds of rural Wyoming; with ashen face she turns 360 degrees and questions, “Is this where I am to spend the rest of my life?” 

            Karl lives and fulfills his dream in America while his wife and family bear the brunt of his unbending determination and seething inner demons.  Katja realizes she will not have the same opportunity to live her own dreams, and at the end-- her life resembles nothing more than a cored apple. 

The Kessel's life in America is anything but easy or expected.  They emigrated from a long-established German village of culture and deep seated religious belief, to a newly settled, uncultured, coarse region of rural Wyoming. They lived their life together as they had promised; they lived through and with all of its hopes, dreams, deprivation, broken promises, disenchantment, heartbreak, and unbearable betrayal.  In the end, Katja becomes empowered taking control of her own destiny and dreams; but is it too late?  Their last years together and apart are unexpected and difficult to contemplate. 

            The Ticket is an unforgettable and touching account of a true American family, filled with ambition, promises, love and loss, and ultimately, a legacy of survival. It is  first in a trilogy of novels pertaining to extended family sagas; each novel twists and turns through generations of carefully researched historical events and personal circumstances. 


 Seed of the Volga - excerpt 2013

 A Novel by Karen Schutte


                  SEED OF THE VOLGA

“The book he held in his hand was the essence of his spiritual existence, it was the source of his decisions, it was the BIBLE.” 

Pregnant and unwed, Princes Theraisa Von Steiner fled from her father's Black Forest castle, in the safety of her Aunt who accompanied her to a family refuge along the Russian Volga River. From his untimely conception, until his death, the life of David Steiner was filled with conflict and lost opportunity. He struggled to find his niche, only to fail time and again. He and his wife Sofie enjoyed a good life in the century-old, German village of Susannenthal. They lived peacefully along the Volga River in Russia, until their very existence was threatened by the volatile Russian government. 

They came with a Bible in one hand and a sugar beet hoe in the other. Author unknown

Emigrating to America in 1907, David and Sofie along with their three small daughters begin a life-long quest for a place that felt like the home they left, a place where they belonged. David moves his family across the country from Baltimore to Michigan, to Wyoming and back again, time after time, never settling long enough to shake the dust from the road. Nowhere they tried--moved to, were the streets paved in gold. Sofie and their growing family finally have enough of ‘the moving’ and they put down stakes in Lovell, Wyoming, where they raise their nine children. They survive the 1918 Flu, the first World War, then struggle through the Great Depression, and watch their sons go off to a second world war. They never have much, but they have each other and their family. Is it enough? How will the cards fall in the end? 

SEED OF THE VOLGA depicts the struggles and conflict eased only by David and Sofie’s eternal love. What does it take to leave your home and family, knowing you will never see them again? What is it like to try to establish your life in a country where you don’t speak the language or understand the culture? Walking onto American soil with two suitcases, how did they begin again? Historical facts and events are woven into this story of faith, devotion, and dreams. It could be your family's story!


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Seed of the Volga & The Ticket



"Last weekend I had my list of things to do...clean, do windows etc. Well....forget all that. I started your book and have done nothing but read. What a great book." - Ruthann, Cheyenne, Wyoming

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